Thursday, April 28, 2016

How to Make Relief Prints using Feathers, Leaves and Flowers.

I facilitated a lovely Magpie workshop last Wednesday (April 20th) at the Hastings branch of the VPL. It was for an after school group, ranging in age from seven to nine years old. We made relief prints from leaves, flowers and feathers. The children were great, so creative and sweet. I had awesome help from Magpie's Nest Community Art Space's members Dawn and Nika.

Here are some of the pre-workshop experiments I did and how I did them:

You will need: a soft rubber brayer, a glass plate (glass from old picture frames work well), printing ink ( I use water soluble Speedball block printing ink), some nice art paper and a variety of leaves, feathers and flowers.

First of all roll your ink onto the glass plate. Once you have the right amount (too much won't give you enough coverage and too little will make your print gloopy) and it is evenly spread, place your leaf or feather onto the plate. Take your brayer and roll over the leaf, feather, or flower, making sure not to scrunch it. It is helpful to start from the centre and work your way out to the edges of the object and also to place it face down, so that the ink goes on the front. If you are using a leaf, you can flip it over and ink both sides. If you are using a feather, or flower, it is easier to only ink one side.

Carefully arrange your object onto some nice paper, making sure that its parts are spread out in a natural way and not bunched together. This is particularly difficult with feathers and flowers. When using a feather, I find it helpful to pick it up by the shaft and lay it down quickly before the vanes have a chance to bunch up. Flowers are very delicate and may need reconstructive surgery once you lay them on the paper. Take another piece of the same paper and sandwich the two together. Rub thoroughly with your fingers, or the back of a desert spoon. Carefully pull the two pieces of paper apart and voila, you have two mirror image prints!

When one colour is dry, You can experiment with other colours, layering images and colours on top of each other.

While you are at it, there are a few other interesting experiments you can do. Once you have used your leaf, feather, or flower, you will notice a ghostly negative image on the plate. place a sheet of your paper carefully on your plate, being careful not to smear the ink. Take a clean brayer and firmly roll the back of the paper. carefully lift the paper and you will have a negative print. The children loved these "ghost" images.

Next you can create lift drawings by again rolling a smooth and even surface onto your plate with your brayer. Gently lay a piece of paper onto the ink, being careful not to touch the back of the paper except very lightly. You are trying to keep the paper touching the ink as clean as possible. With a pen, or pencil, draw onto the back of the paper. Draw anything you like, but for my example, I simply traced a leaf and then drew in the veins as I saw them. You want the ink to touch the paper only where your pen is making an imprint. If you press anywhere else, your image will disappear into the ink.

You can use these techniques in many ways in your artwork: for greeting cards, collages, etc.
Here are some examples of how I have used feather prints, ghost images and lift drawings.

No comments: