I did not spend much time designing for this experiment, for me this was about getting to know the tools, the stuff that would print and what it could do. I only used acrylic paint, although to various levels of dilution, which at times caused some problems, especially when it was too wet, or when it was drying towards the end of the process. The reason for staying with acrylic is that firstly I have good volumes of it, it has good consistency, can be diluted, mixed and is opaque.
Tools and equipment
Here are the main print and stamping tools I used: spongy foam, corks, engraved rubbers, bubble wrap, a ball of yarn around paper, various packaging.
My technical set-up is pretty basic; to be able to print I work in the kitchen, using the ironing board as a table which then supports my drawing board for a firm surface. To enable monoprinting I on top of this place an old glass fridge shelf, which is very handy with its smooth, easy to clean surface. I place paints, water receptacles, brushes and other tools on the kitchen counter within easy reach. stuff is dried all around the hallway, on stairs, boxes, anything with a clear surface (as there is nowhere to hang a line, and various people in the house might walk into it).
A note on safety then: I have to be careful when using paints in the kitchen. I am rigorous in keeping brushes, paints etc away from food related objects, and clean up thoroughly afterwards. I take things heavily smeared in paint to the bathroom for thorough cleansing. However there is an issue with the height of the ironing board. After the first day I printed I had a bit of backache and suspect this has to do with the 'printing table' being too low, and I may have been stooping a bit too much over the work.
A few smaller pieces to see what might happen with space around the print - coloured paper. In one (red), the print templates were placed next to each other, turned 180 degrees from each other to 'mirror' each other.
Various prints, smaller ones and larger, stamps of cork and the edges of the rubbers' wrapper. Although the rectangular rubber prints are a bit hard against the roundedness of the circles and cork prints it does not jar too much. I thought too much circular print would be dull, as it is there is some interest in the diversity of design and angles of the different parts.
A less successful print - I am not sure the red circle prints work here, and I think this is still unfinished:
Again, unfinished, I think this needs something in a contrasting colour to bring out the interesting lines in the centre print. This was also to show that the prints made by the rubber are useful as a framing device:
Leaf print on fine wrapping paper. The leaf print needed to be kept simple for the profile to show properly, below is a leaf print on a busy background which shows that doesn't quite work, here there is a lot of white space around the leaf motif which shows off its irregular edges and open areas well:
A rubber with a leaf-like pattern printing on white wrapping paper:
A less organised test sample of print to test things, here the leaf is printed on a busy background, but there is also a section where I 'walked' the rubber design to make moving trails, and bands of rubber wrapped around stick were rolled across the page:
A leaf print on a bubble wrap print background. With autumnal colours this worked quite well, with contrasts created between the organic and the regular. This was also the first time I created a kind of black from blue and brown; this is a great black, it makes something quite warm of black - which can be a harsh non-colour (here there was a bit of green mixed in from the remaining paint from the background, needed really to make sure there wasn't too much of a contrast between background and design):
These latter prints also indicate elements of texture, the harder, regular dots are flat while the soft leaves leave an open impression that looks soft.
When printing from a dull square in soft foam I discovered that by rotating the pad slightly these circular whirls appear. This worked well, a circle like design with square stamps alongside. Alone these prints lacked something so I added a few simple rings from lids and toilet roll, so the rings were soft (the card roll goes soft quite quickly from the wet paint):