Printing Acanthus Leaves

I have taken one of my drawings of Morris’s very famous Acanthus designs and translated it across two square etching plates.

img_7887I wanted this print to be very fine and delicate, therefore I used a very fine pointed tool to draw the design into the wax ground. This print will be entirely linear; I am interested in trying to achieve a crisp, clean print.

1) 1st ink application – paper print:img_7953At first I wasn’t sure how far apart to position my plates, so I placed them with a large gap between them. For a first print this one came out with lovely dark lines, however it is clear that I didn’t do a great job of cleaning off the excess ink from the rest of the plate. It came out darker than I imagined, but is some ways I like this more ‘grungy’ look to an otherwise delicate design.

(For the rest of my prints I am not one-hundred-percent sure of the order in which I did them. Therefore their order will not be chronological, but will hopefully make sense.)

2) 2nd ink application – print on muslin: img_7927My main aim for this printing session was to get a clear print onto fabric; this was my first attempt. For this print I did not dampen the fabric before printing, and I  made sure to clean off all the excess ink. However, there is a chance these two things are part of the reason why this print is so faint. Of course it is most probably also due to the looser weave of the material. But again, first attempt on fabric.

3) 2nd ink application – paper print directly after previous printimg_7933Since the muslin print hadn’t really worked, and it takes a long time to ink up the plate, I chose to make a second print, from the same application of ink. The result was a nice clean print. I’m sure it would have been a bit darker if it was the first print, but I wanted to get lots of prints done and not waste time.

4) 3rd ink application – print on muslin:img_7923img_7925This was my second attempted of printing on to fabric, and once again it didn’t really work. The reason the image is doubled is because I put it through the printing press twice. I started putting it through the press then wondered if the reason why the previous print didn’t work was because there wasn’t enough pressure. So I added a couple layers of paper then printed it again. Unfortunately the fabric moved during the second press. In someways I like the doubled effect.

5) 3rd ink application – paper print img_7966Since I sort of liked the double print effect, I made a second print directly after; onto paper. There was residue of the doubled effect left on the plate after the muslin print, and I was curious what the outcome would be. The double effect appeared again, but after looking at it for a while it began to make my eyes hurt.

6) 4th ink application – paper print img_7951For this print I positioned the plates right up against one another. There is a thin white line between the plates, because of the beveled edges of the plate. I like the plates at this distance; it is clear that the are two separate plates, but the image has a better ‘flow’.

7) 4th ink application – paper print img_7956Again I made a second print from the same ink application as the previous print. Obviously the only difference it that the ink is slightly more faded. In some ways this just makes the print more delicate.

8) 5th ink application – fabric print img_7919I really love this print, it is my first successful fabric print. I got it to work by not fully cleaning of all the excess ink. I also dampened the fabric, which I’m not sure if it really helped, but it definitely worked. The extra ink on the plate, makes the lines of the print lovely and dark, plus you are able to see the edges of the plates (which I always like). The fabric was off white almost a pale yellow in colour, which emphasises that it is fabric, not just white paper.

9) 5th ink application – paper print img_7959It is obvious on this secondary paper print how much excess ink I lift on the plate before printing.

10) 5th ink application – paper print img_7962This is the third print I made form the same ink application. The effect of this very faded grey plate, is almost smoky, soft and delicate.

11) 6th ink application – single fabric print img_7934Since I seemed to work out how to print on to fabric, I quickly tried it again. I only had a small piece of fabric left, so I just printed the top plate of the design. It worked well, but I manage to get lots of smudges of ink around the edges of the fabric. The makes a less crisp print, but the ‘grungy’ effect is kind of cool.

12) 6th ink application – paper print img_7931This last quick print was once again the second of one ink application. The print has not come out that well. It’s very grey and ‘smoky’, plus you can see areas within the lines where the paper didn’t pick up any ink, so they are left white. I find this very interesting, this is almost a print of what not to do. Especially because I decided to cut the paper to the site of the print. I was curious what the effect would be. In some ways its nice that its the same size at the plate.



Author: Crisiant Williams

I am a Fine Art student, studying at Cardiff School of Art and Design.

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