Studio Process: Evan Summer
The following is a guest-post by Evan Summer. Evan was invited, along with some other artists, to contribute to a new Printeresting series called Studio Process. While not intended to be overly-technical, the idea is to see some behind-the-scenes pictures on the way a piece develops. This is the first post in what will hopefully be an ongoing series.
Collagraphs have interested me since my first undergraduate printmaking course. I studied with Harvey Breverman who taught printmaking at the State University of NY at Buffalo. He suggested I make an embossment with cardboard rather than zinc. Soon I was gluing papers and fabric to matboard bases. These were coated with acrylic medium, inked like an etching and printed on an etching press. Even though I do mostly etchings now, I enjoy the dark textural quality of the collagraph prints as well as the challenge of constructing the plate, especially a large 36” x 48” plate like this.
My collagraph plates went through stages. The first ones were made on matboard and I used Elmer’s Glue as an adhesive. As I continued working with collagraphs, I began to emphasize the plate more than the print – I really thought of myself as a plate maker more than a printmaker, and often liked the plates more than the prints. I looked for stronger, more permanent materials that would stay flat. I avoided rubber-based glues like contact cement. They aren’t very permanent and were very badly affected by the solvents used to clean the plates. One attempt during grad school ended as a sticky mess even though I thought it was well sealed with acrylic medium.
Matboard is a good base for small collagraph plates, but for a plate this size I wanted something stronger. I had some printed circuit board material that is mostly Micarta with extremely thin copper on the face and back. It’s less than 1/16” thick. Perfect for a collagraph base. The copper surface didn’t make any difference to me since it was too thin to etch. But having it as the surface of the base meant I had to use epoxy as an adhesive.
Lots more text and images after the jump.
I had a preliminary drawing but the plate soon took on a life of its own. I started drawing on the base and cut the shapes from paper, mostly bristol board. Moving them around helped me visualize the evolving image. These pieces were glued into place and then additional cuts were made to create detail. I also used carborundum to create rough areas. Keeping the plate thin and flat is essential. The paper surfaces had to be coated to make them impervious to ink and solvents. I used the epoxy adhesive as a coating in some parts and thinned acrylic medium or polyurethane varnish in others. Thicker gloss and gel acrylic mediums were later applied in some areas too.Scraping and Sanding
Printing was done on a motorized Takach Garfield etching press. I tried a couple different inks and ended up using my own mixture. My choice of paper was limited by the size of the plate and I used rolled hot pressed Lanaquarelle watercolor paper. I’ve found thick etching papers to work best for these collagraph plates.
I titled this print Landscape LV and I did significant additional plate work after proofing. It involved more gluing, scraping, sanding and coating with acrylic medium. The plates can be changed easily after proofing, adding flexibility to the medium.
There were changes that needed to be made for technical reasons too. There were some air bubbles trapped in the epoxy and these were depressed by the pressure of printing. I had to fill them with paste epoxy. It was also necessary to re-coat some parts where the inks and solvents got through the coatings.
My platemaking methods, inking and resulting printed surfaces have evolved along with my architectural landscape imagery. I try to create a moody quality. Some, like this print, border on abstraction, while others are more realistic. I want to continue with this type of imagery, but to combine the collagraph techniques with etching.
-Evan Summer, May 2012Bookmark / Share / Print