What an exciting day I had yesterday. Because I really didn’t know exactly what we would be doing at the South East Textile Group monthly workshop I was totally floored to discover that we would be learning how to print collagraphs on to paper and felt using intaglio plates, I had been thinking along the lines of lino or potato prints. The brilliant Maeve Coulter, feltmaker and printmaker extrodinare had been inspired by an exhibition of printed felt at the Knit and Stitch show in England and was dying to try experimenting at home, we were the guinea pigs!
Maeve clearly explained the process we would be using during the workshop, creating out printing plate from Dahler board (for a stronger plate suitable for multiple prints perspex or metal is the best), cutting designs into it with craft knives and adding depth and texture with cutouts created from embossed wallpaper, lace, fabric, threads and in fact anything very thin that we could lay our hands on that could be used. Once we were happy with our design and had glued the various components using PVA or wood glue the plate was painted with shellac and we took a well needed break for lunch and a drink.
As soon as we returned to the workshop after lunch we learnt how to apply the oil based intaglio printing inks over the surface of our boards making sure to work the colour really carefully into all the textured areas. As with any type of painting it was very simple to mix the inks and achieve subtle colour variations in tone and it was also possible to blend the ink on the plates as we went along. Once the plates were totally saturated with colour we then removed all the excess ink, not so easy in the textured areas as it was difficult to determine if enough was removed as none of us had never done much (or in my case none) printing with a press before. While we were preparing the plates Maeve had left suitable paper soaking in the sink and one by one as we had finished our rubbing we brought our plates and paper to the printing press to try out our first print. Often the first couple of prints are not the best, once you see how things are going you can decide if you need to rub off more ink or change the colours etc. so Maeve had prepared us for the worst! In reality it was fantastic!! Obviously we did need to adjust and rethink some areas but overall it was just so exciting to see all the work coming off the press, beautiful designs and colours, each persons work totally different.
After the first print run we then switched to a much more expensive and better quality paper before having the opportunity to print onto fabric if we wanted. My prints on paper were in various shades of green (no surprises there!) so I decided not to clean the plate after my second print but add a deep turquoise colour and see how that would print onto my apple green felt. The fabric accepted the ink brilliantly, obviously this is a method really suited to felt and I was very happy with the resultant green colour as achieved with the blue on top of the green background. Now that I understand the process my mind is spinning with all the possibilities opening up, graduated shades of felt, adding silk, linen or corn fibres to the felt, incorporating a design in the felt that mirrors the print ……. can’t wait to join Maeve for another session and see how far we can expand this technique. (Will edit to include images as soon as I have them taken!)
Now for a couple of pictures of the nuno felt wrap with silk, merino and linen.
This first image is a close up of the fibre laid out and ready to felt. If you look carefully you can see the small design printed on the silk and linen background and the green and pink fibres overlaid on top of the merino are some of the new linen fibres that I am experimenting with at the moment. It did take a lot longer to work the fibres through the silk/linen mix but hopefully you will think that the result was worth the effort!
This scarf will be the first to go up on my Etsy shop this evening (computer willing) and over the next few weeks I hope to add new work, wool, felting kits (still waiting for the Icelandic wool to arrive) and goodie bags filled with odds and ends of both fibre and embellishments.