Works in Progress

Photogram Work in the darkroom at Cleveland Print Room

I wanted to explore something completely different when I began the residency in Cleveland. I am always working with print, which requires a really specific way of thinking about image making. You must think in terms of layers, and keep the process you're using in mind at all times. With the exception of monotype, it's sometimes hard to be spontaneous in printmaking. The chance to work with photography for a while was a chance to refresh things and make something visually different, because I'm literally having to think differently during the process.

Of course, I still wanted to make work relevant to me. I love photography and taking photographs and have never used them in my own practice. So in the beginning of the residency period I did a lot of research and reading on alternative darkroom techniques, and ways in which I could use black and white photography in more abstract and spontaneous ways than I would have otherwise.

Ripple - Silver Gelatin Print

Ripple - Silver Gelatin Print

I had been thinking about the images made by surrealist photographer Man Ray, who popularised photograms, although he referred to them as Rayographs. Here is a little collection of my research images, all Man Ray photograms featuring hands:

These photograms really inspired me, as they were so unique, having a dreamlike, surreal mystery to them. I managed to learn the technique from the wonderful staff at CPR. The process is the same in the darkroom as it would be if you were making prints from a roll of film, just without the film. Essentially, they are camera-less photographs. The print room has great facilities for creating enlargements up to quite a large scale, so I was excited to work on some big photograms using my own paintings as transparencies. 

In my work have used hands as a symbol representing people, emotion, movement. Using the cutout hand shapes is also a callback to silhouette papercut illustration, and shadow puppetry.

A work in progress image from my sketchbook. I laid out the cutout hands in different ways to decide on compositions.

A work in progress image from my sketchbook. I laid out the cutout hands in different ways to decide on compositions.

To make my photograms I began with painting on transparencies, using sumi ink and salt, which I then cut up into shapes. I then brought these to the darkroom, where I arranged them under an enlarger directly on top of photo paper. These objects acted as a stencil for the light from the enlarger, and once exposed to that light, the photogram could be developed as usual.

Cutout hands on photopaper. This one actually ended up as a lumen print.

Cutout hands on photopaper. This one actually ended up as a lumen print.

I then brought these shapes to the darkroom, where I arranged them under an enlarger directly on top of photo paper. These objects acted as a stencil for the light from the enlarger, and once exposed to that light, the photogram could be developed as you would a normal black and white print. Below, you can watch the process of developing one of the photograms at the print room.

katieravenscraig photogram.jpg

I love this process and will be making more.

Check out the full project for more photograms! 

Geli Monoprinting and Paper Drypoint prints

I have been making quick geli monoprints and paper drypoint intaglio prints. Both really quick, messy and fun ways to approach printmaking.

Geli Printing is a cool new way to monoprint, using a wobbly gelatin plate and either water or oil based inks. You can build up the surface using rollers, textured stamps, brushes, or if you're like me probably just your fingers. What's really cool about it is it keeps a ghost image on the surface that you can play with, gradually building up layers before printing a final image. For my ones, I kept it simple. I used a brush, cloth and fingers to get the soft, almost lithography-like marks, and paper stencils to block out the white shapes. The final two images show what can be achieved with the ghosting.

portal (Small)
portal (Small)
fireball (Small)
fireball (Small)
moon (Small)
moon (Small)
moon refelection (Small)
moon refelection (Small)

The other day I made some quick new paper drypoints, too. Quick and easy. Might print some nicer ones from the plates at some point...

wing (Small)
wing (Small)
sun 2 (Small)
sun 2 (Small)
orb 2 (Small)
orb 2 (Small)

3D Printed Things at DCA

At the beginning of the year, the DCA Print Studio got a little 3D printer, and I have been experimenting with my own print plates and experiments. At first, we all learned how to print our own 3D selfies! Here I am:

Haha. The 3D scanner really picks up a lot of detail in the short amount of time it takes to compile the image. It then took just under 2 hours to print.  Shortly after that, I had a go making and 3D printing little intaglio/relief printmaking plates. It went pretty well, but I haven't fully explored the technique yet. Here are a few pictures! They are all small test plates printed through an etching press on somerset satin paper.

Still want to develop that further when I have the time! While I was playing with 3D possibilities, I really liked the mesh that made up one of the failed 3D scans of my own self. I got to making a screen and digital print from it. I don't have a great picture of the final thing yet, but here's the mock up. It's actually the back of my head looking inside, with various holes and deformations that the scanner made on its own. I flipped it so it almost resembles a mountainscape.

I also started to think about ways in which I could use this technology in my own practice. I have been looking at the huge amount of open source 3D models available for free online. I downloaded several and sliced their arms/hands off in 3dsMax, then printed them at this miniature scale, suspending them from silk thread.

You can download and print just about any object you desire. What future world could we create with this over-abundance of information? How many hands are 'connected' to the internet right now, typing and swiping away? Could I be printing a 3D scan of your hand as you read this blog post?

Happy February! Updates and 2015

Apologies for the absence - Christmas and new year was hectic. My Etsy store really took off around November. That, alongside lots of overtime at my day jobs, meant less time for blogging. I have been working on many new things, however!

Quick updates:

I got a new computer! It is so lovely and glossy and blue. It also runs Photoshop, Illustrator and even 3D Design Programmes with ease, and I am very happy with it. This will go a long way to help me design, research and experiment for new work.

At work, we got a 3D Printer, so I have been researching printmaking with 3D Printed plates, and also with simply working in 3DSMax to create some weird stuff. Dedicated blog post to follow!

I learned, with Paul, how to make a silver ring! We went along to the last Vanilla Ink class and made each other some really lovely rings with the help of the lovely Kate. Sad to see them go, as their studio at WASPS closed last week.

I learned Taku-hon (Japanese Stone Rubbing), perhaps the first printmaking technique to be invented in the world. The pieces created can be beautifully textured, tactile, and either dark and bold or feathery light and subtle. Will also follow up with a blog post.

I am learning bookbinding. I have fallen in love with the look and feel of coptic bound books, and plan to create a range for my online store once I can do them well.

Another Zine to come soon! Everything I Know About Dreams... Goal is to finish it for the next ZineSwap later this month.

My 2015 vague goals? I have lots of ideas for new pieces, including collage, geo prints, and sculptural work, as well as some nice etching and screen prints. I want to make scale a consideration this year: tiny little plates as well as bigger, one off pieces. I'd like to, mid year, have a portfolio to include my own examples all the techniques that I know and use at work. I also want to experiment and work with GOLD!

About my New Watercolour Monoprints

I've been experimenting in print for a little while now, using techniques that are new to me but which better suit my style of working. I have always painted, even throughout art school where I began to outwardly produce linear, clean drawings and prints. I mainly painted in my sketchbooks, using colourful ink and watercolour washes, often just as a background to a white page.

consume1
consume1
w12121432small
w12121432small

Not my best work, but I made A LOT of these.

Then I thought... why don't I consider this work in itself, and not just an aside to my 'main' projects? I have been trying to view the things I produce more holistically, and ignore barriers between them such as 'fine art', 'craft', 'design', 'writing', etc. In the end, they are all informed by each other, and I move fluidly between them, which is personally quite a refreshing way of working.

So I began making new things, using watercolour monotype, a basic technique I covered here. It allowed me to use washes of colour and ink blot shapes just like I used to in my old sketchbooks.

Katie Ravenscraig- Eyes Open All Around (Small)
Katie Ravenscraig- Eyes Open All Around (Small)

Of course, I have always loved making intricate, fine detail work too, usually in some kind of symmetrical pattern. Masking off my paintings before printing allowed me to find a new way of approaching my drawings. Plus, they have a sweet emboss, plate mark and are one of a kind. Interestingly though, you can get more than one print out of a watercolour monotype plate. I can reliably take 3, but some artists have managed up to 6. Of course, the image gets fainter and fainter each time.

I will have more to show you before the year is over, but for now, I am off to the studio to finish making even more new pieces! :)