Dry Point Etching Workshop

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I didn’t realise until a bit into the workshop that I have done dry-point before during A Level but the process was very different to this. This meant that aspects of this workshop were familiar and easy and others were completely new and required more attention.

When I did dry point during A Level, my tutor called it etching, we did it into a type of card that had a film layer you could peel away and have solid blocks of colour if you wanted and if you put too much pressure on the plate, your fingerprints would be visible on your print.

Mick told us we were doing dry point with a plastic plate and told us how there are ways of doing it in metal in different ways as well. He encouraged us to start with a rough design and work into it with every print so we would be continually developing.

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I used a ruler to mark in my design but overshot quite a few of my lines which show up and are visible on all my prints.

 

After printing my first print, I asked Mick why my lines were so rough when I had carved them so straight and evenly. He said that when you etch into this kind of plate, the edges of your marks push up and the plastic forms ridges that ink can get stuck in.

This wasn’t something I had come across before as when using the card I did in A level, this didn’t happen. Mick said if I wanted I could sand it down but the marks of the sandpaper would be on my plate. I’m not entirely sure how I could fix it without damaging my plate.

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I then began to work into my plate further, adding things to the design with every print.

This helped me to understand the process better, however, it cause a lot of problems throughout. When I added the diagonal lines to the block areas of the letter, it made it very hard to get the ink out from between the lines without pulling it out of the design. Thus, that area is not as clean as I would like it.

 

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Thinking I couldn’t add much more to my design, I tried printing it in different colours. The yellow was labelled as transparent ink which meant it was easy to clean the plate and anything left on the plate surface didn’t print strongly so my design was more clear cut than when I used the green and blue.

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At the end of the session, I tried to clean my plate but much of the ink had dried into the plate and I couldn’t get it out. I don’t know if this will affect future prints but it could mean that the ink doesn’t get very far into the design.

Having done this process with both card and plastic, I have to say I prefer it with card. The product you get is much cleaner which helps immensely when that is the effect you want. If I use this process again, I think I will try and source my own card and use that to do it.

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Tutorial with David

Because of a clash between my tutorial and print workshop, I missed my tutorial with Dave and arranged to meet with David instead to discuss my work.

I showed him what I’d been doing over summer and how that was informing what I am working on and working towards now. I also showed him my prints and type pieces and how I’ve been going over them several times to improve them and correct my mistakes.

He told me that this refining process I’ve been going through is exactly what I need to be doing, constantly identifying areas for improvement and working on them.

We also discussed the way I have been drawing everything I do, every workshop back to type and bringing improving my handmade type into every workshop. He said this was a good way of making the workshops work for me and keeping everything as a solid, relevant stream of skills improvement.

Going forward, I just need to keep on track with what I’m doing, drawing type, making pieces, being hypercritical of my mistakes and improving them.

Lino Print Workshop

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Lino printing is something I have done before but not much of. I’ve never done it with type before so I had to really keep in mind that my lino plate had to be a reverse of the type I was drawing.

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At first, I did some prints the conventional way, using the rolling press. After printing the first one, I showed it to Mike, the technician and asked him why it had bled and blurred so much around the edges. He told me I had probably put too much ink on my plate and that could cause some movement or bleeding while printing.

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The next print I did, I put less ink on the plate when I printed and got this grainy effect on the print from not using enough ink.

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The third print I did, I decided to try rolling two colours onto my plate. The turquoise I had to roll a lot so that I could match the line of the red so there was some bleeding and spreading of the ink again. I asked Mike why the red half looked so watery and he said it was probably because there was still water or oil on my plate so the ink didn’t take to it as well. In future, I will have to dry and clean my plates better before re-printing.

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Earlier in the workshop, Mike had mentioned that you can use the nipping press to lino print if you want but it isn’t as reliable a method of printing because lino relies so much on high pressure. I decided to try printing with it to see what it would look like.

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The first print I did, I had the same problem as before with not properly drying my plate so the colour came out quite faded. As well as this, the plate hadn’t printed the top of my design very well. I asked Mike what had caused it and he didn’t know because using the nipping press for lino is quite unconventional.

While I like this ghosting effect at the top of the letter, I didn’t know how to replicate it in a controlled way so I kept working with the press. I thought that if I could work out how to eliminate it, I could later work out how to replicate it so I began with that.

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The next print I did, I went back to the split colour because I quite like the aesthetic of it. However I found black and red to be a hard combination to perfect because the slightest bit of black on red changes the colour quite significantly and you get cross colour contamination. For this print, I pulled the press shut tighter and held it there for longer to se if that would change things but I had the same ghosting effect on this one as my first print.

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For a while I was stuck on how to fix this ghosting effect but I took a close look at the press and discovered that the pressure was not evenly distributed across the entire press. Towards the middle, the pressure is quite low, which cause the ghosting effect, and around the edge, the pressure is quite high, which creates a more solid print.

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After working with the nipping press, I decided to try another way of printing to see what it would look like. For this print, I used a bone folder to hand burnish the print. This gave me a very grainy print which I really like. Because of the low pressure of hand burnishing a print, it doesn’t fully print but you can focus the areas you want to print better than others.

This was a really exciting revelation to me but due to time constraints, I couldn’t explore it further in this workshop. In future, when I have a good amount of time to devote to experimentation and skill improvement, I would like to really play with the effect I can create from hand burnishing and see if I can get noticeable differences in tone across the print from the amount of pressure I apply by hand.

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Something I thought had a lot of potential was these pieces. When you roll on your first layer of ink onto your plate, if you want to roll on another layer without getting a ghosting effect on your plate, you have to roll off the design onto some newsprint. I really like how the ink that has been take off by the plate leaves an obvious copy on the paper. It’s much more visible with the turquoise than the red so I think that the effect could be very colour dependent.  This technique has huge potential in terms of single tone imagery so I’d quite like to experiment with it and see what I could do with it.

I do like lino printing and there is a lot I would like to experiment with but print isn’t my primary focus for this section of the project so I think my time would be better devoted to working on typography and bookbinding as those are the skills I am most focused on improving.

I think I am most likely to access this resource on a project by project basis or for independent study. I can’t see it playing a huge part in this project but it isn’t something I just want to leave forever so I will come back to it.

 

Mono Print Workshop

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Mono printing is something I’ve never really explored before so I was really interested in improving my skills at this technique.

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Initially I just experimented with a combination of cut out shapes but this work didn’t excite or interest me and I didn’t feel like I was pushing myself or the limitations of the process. The prints I was making also felt very out of touch with the type and bookbinding work I’ve been doing so far so I decided to change my perspective.

Following the inspiration of a type piece I saw on pinterest, I used a rough version of it to try printing with.

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Screencapped from here 9/10/16

Although my paper cuts were quite thin and elegant, the print around it did not work out that way. My lines were all thickened by the process and the design became less intelligible.

I asked the workshop staff what I could do to counteract this and they said there wasn’t much, but if I increased the point size of the type as a whole, it would remain in proportion and print better. The smaller the design, the less accuracy you will have.

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I continued to experiment, alternation between stencil and cut out to see how it would affect my prints. For all of them, I could not get the desired precision in my design so I think, when doing typographic monoprint in the future, I shall have to increase the point size of my type so I can better control this.


The one print that I really like is the one below. Through not washing or inking up my plate after a print, I got thinly layered, blended colours of in that printed in a way that looks quite like a galaxy.

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This is an effect I would like to recreate in the future but most likely only for a texture that I will work into or digitally edit later.

While I enjoyed this workshop and found learning the process valuable, I think monoprinting is a process that I won’t do much of unless it is for a very specific purpose. I don’t think it works very well with my way of creating as I like my work to be much cleaner and more precise.

Over Summer – Making a notebook

I wanted to get back into bookbinding so I decided to make myself a notebook for the start of the year.I had very limited materials so I was quite limited by what I could do.

Inspired by a book I had recently read, I wanted to make the front cover of my notebook to reflect one of my favourite characters. I decided on having her name on the cover but for a while, alternated between the idea of sewing it and drawing it. Because the only kind of covering for the hardcover I had was canvas, I chose to sew the name into it and then bind it.

I searched for a typeface I wanted to use for a long time but eventually settled on this one.

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Screencapped from here 9/10/16

Sewing in the type did cause a few problems. It was hard at times to make the type uniform and distinguishing between lines and entry points became quite hard. I also had to accurately measure where the cover would go so that when it was bound, the book wouldn’t sag because of an oversized cover.

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The book looks good on the outside, it’s exactly as I designed on the outside. The overall look of the cover is exactly what I was reaching for.

I decided to glue in some ribbon pieces to tie the book shut and add some contrasting tone to the outside aesthetic. The colours often associated with this character are black, white and red so I’m glad I could fit them all in.

I had some problems when it came to actual binding though. Because of the paper I had not being wide enough for a perfect, pamphlet or coptic bind, I had to use stab stitch to hold it together. This considerably reduced the page width so I ended up with a very thin notebook.

I also found it hard to get the pages even and this caused me to over cut the end papers so you can see the pages underneath. I think I need to be less nervous with my binding because it cause me to second guess myself and take off parts that I shouldn’t

The thing I found most difficult was gluing the endpapers into the cover. Because of the stab stitch, the endpapers wouldn’t stick to the contents over the stitching so I had to be content with a gap there. However this made it very hard to accurately glue it into the cover.

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Overall, I am very happy with how this book turned out and I will be using it a lot, however it had left me with many questions to ask workshop staff about how to improve my skills next year.

Over Summer – Hand lettering

I spent part of my time in summer trying to improve my hand lettering skills. Hand lettering has always been something I was interested in, however I have not put in the time to get my skills to a high standard.

I did a lot of research into different typefaces and made myself a database of type and hand lettering pieces on pinterest.

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All screencapped from Pinterest.com 9/10/16

Using these as reference, I set out to practice freehand drawing type. I began with ampersands because I have always been fascinated by them and I wanted to be better at drawing them.

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I then began to attempt drawing quotes into typographic piece using references from my Type Pinterest board as well.

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Screencapped from here 9/10/16

I followed this hand lettering tutorial process to work out how to plan my pieces better.

I found her process immensely helpful and following it really helped me when making my piece.

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The leading on several

I intend to work into this piece further, digitally, to enhance it and make it look professional and clean while still keeping that hand drawn feel to it.

I also attempted to do some quick, freehand type sketches but I am not very happy with them.

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They are not at all straight and I know I can do much better than this so I put these aside and moved onto practising more measured type.

Over Summer – Working at Blackwell’s

During summer I got a job working at Blackwell’s bookshop. As well as selling books and stacking shelves, one of the things they asked me to do was draw a hand-lettered directional sign and a decorative sign to go up in store.

The manager, Jude, gave me a list of what needed to be included on the sign so I could design them accurately.

I didn’t spend a long time choosing typefaces for either sign and there wasn’t much process to the design, I went with my initial thoughts of what was good and that’s what I sent to Jude.

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I sent these two initial designs to Jude and she approved them so the next week I went into the shop to draw them up.

There were a few amendments that needed to be made to the signs that Jude didn’t mention when she approved the designs so I just had to work out the maths and fit them in.

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Working out the maths and the lettering part was annoying and frustrating because the type didn’t completely fit into the sign without careful measurement so I had a lot of working out to do for each sign.

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Initially I thought the sign would only take me a few hours but that turned out to be a few days because of underestimating the amount of time I would need and being needed for other things in the store.

For the directional sign, I made a few changes to my original design. I came up against issues of spacing because of how much content needed to be fit into a space that wasn’t that big and the letters all had to be individually legible.

Because of these issues with spacing, I decided that a single line between the sections would save space but still divide them well.

I had originally drawn up the whole sign in white with no embellishments or colour at all but decided it looked quite confusing and boring so I added the colour and the embellishments next to important information.

Although for the most part I am happy with the sign, because I wanted it to have a hand-drawn feel to it, there are a lot of mistakes in it. The leading and kerning are very narrown and inconsistent at points. There is no uniform cap height across all the words nor a uniform x-height.

The sign looks good and fulfils the purpose, however from a typographic perspective it is riddled with errors.

 

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For the other sign, I decided to use purely colour with some slight white accents. Because this sign is more decorative, I felt like a more colourful look would make it stand out more.

With this one, I pretty much kept exactly to my original design other than adding colour and highlights. It was very different doing this one as opposed to doing the directional sign because, despite there being less content, I had to spread it differently and work out where it should go on the board.

I started with the words and put the ampersand in last so that I could make sure the words fit in well before adding the connector. For the most part this worked in my favour, however on reflection the tracking between the words and the ampersand is quite off and quite tight.

I am more pleased with how this sign looks than the directional sign but it has brought to light that I need to work more on fitting a lot of text into a small area rather than a small amount of text in a large area because that it the area I am less skilled in.

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A few weeks after finishing the signs, Jude asked me to come in to do some edits on the directional sign. Despite using a spellchecker, I didn’t proof read my text which lead to me writing ‘Stationary’ on the original sign rather than the correct word ‘Stationery’ so I needed to alter that.

I had also forgotten to write ‘Business Centre’ underneath ‘Mapping’ so that also needed to be added. Initially I was worried about needing this addition but now it’s done, it’s filled the space at the bottom quite nicely so the sign looks more complete as a whole.

Currently Blackwell’s don’t need anymore signs drawing but they said if they do, they will come to me because they are very pleased with the results I produced with these two signs.

 

Over Summer – Xenia’s Cookbook

My friend Xenia asked me to make her a blank recipe book for her to write all the recipes she likes with a piece of fabric she gave me.

The size of the fabric means it will have to be quite small but other that using the fabric, she gave me no other specifications

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Sketchbook work on brief and initial thoughts on design

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Sketchbook work and fabric Xenia asked me to use.

Due to not having access to the workshops and software I needed over summer, this book has also been put on hold.

 

Over Summer – Photographing Phil & Frankie’s Wedding

Towards the end of summer, my friend Sophie asked me if I would photograph and make the album for her dad and his fiance’s wedding.

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Sketchbook work on brief and photographing the day

On the day I took over 1000 photos which the couple asked me to give to them unedited.

I left it up to the couple to decide which ones they wanted me to put in an album for them and those are the ones I will edit for them.

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Sketchbook work on album design

Unfortunately, shortly after the wedding, the groom passed away so the album has been put on hold until further notice.

Over Summer – Pinterest boards

For inspiration this summer, I created a pinterest account with several boards that I will be constantly adding to and looking at for reference.

I also have it for personal use so I screengrabbed some sections from relevant boards to show here.

The type board especially has been a useful reference point for planning out hand drawn type this summer. Also the bookbinding board has been useful to identify gaps in my knowledge.

Type

 

Bookbinding

 

Embroidery

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Letterpress

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Print

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Tips and tutorials

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Below is the link to my pinterest