I started to consider the prints on paper and tissue and how to introduce colour. Wash the pages? Printing ink? I quickly learnt it was better to ink wash or paint the paper before folding and to colour the background and papers before sticking as both Matte Gel and PVA resist water and oil based ink when dry.
My progress was disheartening, the results were not as good as the test samples. (I omitted to photograph them). I went back to the drawing board, reviewed my work so far. I felt I could raise my game and returned to printing, overprinting earlier dark samples with white. Labelled ‘opaque’, ‘opaque’ the ink was, almost impossible to thin, obliterating the earlier print.
I felt a bit overwhelmed and spent too long placing and rearranging printed material on pages for a folded book. A single print on a white page was dull, definitely not enough impact when set on concertina pages.
Putting the prints to one side, I tried layering the screen printed fine fabrics and tissue.
This was better, more interesting, but would it fold well? The appeal of the books was the clean folds with the textured prints. I was still floundering. Could I get more interest if the background of pages were lightly printed with scrim, stitch or rollered? Would an all over visual texture in contrasting or complementary colour help? Yes, more visual texture would make the prints more dynamic.
To work out how many printed pages I would need, I questioned the structure again, thinking I had misinterpreted the instruction. Although starting with 2 x 8 concertina pages two of the eight were lost at each end when adding the cover. I adjusted the design when I realised that if I sewed the third and fifth fold instead of the 2nd, 4th and 6th I got more ‘diamonds’ in the structure, and more visible surfaces for the same amount of paper.
Also, using previously decorated or old print scraps and quickly decorating with inks or acrylic and a roller produced a looser more expressive look that is preferable to me at this stage and brings together the loose, expressive, lively combination of layering colour and texture that I enjoy about printing.
I sorted rigorously through my prints to date, retaining only the best. Reviewing the final selection again, I compared them with the samples in my workbook considering materials, colour, placement, texture and finish. I felt the existing prints could be improved, they needed more difference in value, contrast in line and shape to increase the visual texture. Back to the workbook again to identify stitch samples with potential: big loopy chain stitch, lines of chain stitch and textured fabrics had worked well, as had using double thread. With this in mind, some more stitched pieces were prepared.
Whilst assessing and reassessing my work, I saw the connections between the areas I had been exploring
- layering printed and painted fine fabrics
- decorated paper layered collage
- collagraph prints.
They all use the same principle, ‘play’, add colour, visual texture, make connections in shape and line, contrast shape and line, arrange and rearrange until visually appealing. If I used a similar approach to the collagraphs, I could definitely ‘raise my game’.
I hadn’t really lost focus, but the choice was too wide, there were so many potential paths. By reflecting, I was succeeding in narrowing my focus. By re-examining and reminding myself of the skills practiced in earlier assignments and identified as having potential for the final piece, I was excited to get back to print.