Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#printoctober: styrofoam relief prints

Last week I did some monoprints from a styrofoam plate. Or rather a plate made from a styrofoam meat tray. (But a plate from a plate would work, too... ) I didn't take pictures of the process, even though I thought about it. And, of course, I was asked for pictures I didn't take of steps I did. So I'm doing another one and this time documenting it, hopefully enough that you can see how to do it.

Here's what you need:
Styrofoam, of some flattish sort, like a meat/veggie tray. Not peanuts.
x-acto or mat knife
a pen or pencil
brayer (aka a roller)
ink (or some paint)

the tools of the trade

Cut the bottoms of the trays out. In a perfect (lazier) world, this would not be necessary. But the bottoms of the trays are stamped on the underside with branding and recycling logos, etc.  I found it easier to cut when the tray was upside down. Use a sharp blade. I didn't do this. Don't follow my bad examples.
the bottom of the trays. note the stamping.

et voila!

Now you are ready for your artwork. I drew out my idea and then just reworked it on the styrofoam, drawing lightly at first, so as not to make any indentations in the foam. My original plan was to have the text as positive space. This didn't really work. There was too much negative space to try to compress. Styrofoam lends itself to line drawing very well, but not much else (unless you are doing big blocks of color, or cutting the styrofoam up to add to a collagraph. It works great for that. And I just gave myself an idea for a collagraph. Look for a blog post about that next week.) 

Remember your image will be backwards. The red pen on my drawing was there so I could see it through the back of the paper. Working on black is not ideal. If you can't imagine the mirror image of your artwork, then hold it up to a window and trace the backside. Then rub the front side of your artwork with charcoal or graphite or chalk/pastel. Place your drawing right side down on top of your styrofoam and trace the drawing. This will transfer your image onto the plate. This is old school. (You could also scan it and reverse it in photoshop and then print out a copy of it reversed and then transfer that... but seriously, that's more effort.) If you press hard it will indent it as well. Once you have an indentation on the foam, you can print it.

completed plate
Now you are ready for ink. Roll some ink out, til the coverage on your brayer is even, then roll the plate. I didn't take pictures of this but you can see it in the linocut post. I was all fancy in that one, but this is rolled with just one color. I rolled it in light yellow first, so that you could actually see it. Black ink on a black plate is tough.
inked, so you can see it

Things I would differently: 
(also known as, what did I learn here? I try to remind myself that learning what doesn't work is just as important as learning what does work.)

Use a fresh blade. I was too lazy to get a new one.

I did cut against a straight edge, but it's not straight on one side, where I cut against the second plate to make them the same. Don't do this again. Also, get a t-sqaure out, because a straight edge isn't enough. It's not terrible that it's not square. Decide how important it is to you for your own design. It may be better in some cases to not be square. you might decide you don't even need to cut the styrofoam, that you can just tear off pieces of the edge until you get to a flat place. It could be cool. It will be hard to register multiple colors, but maybe that doesn't matter. You decide.

I need a little more space between letters, especially the av in have. 

I did try using linoleum cutters last week and they tore the styrofoam. It would be worth trying to cut a small v with an x-acto instead of using a pen to carve. If any of you try this, let me know if it works better. 

No comments:

Post a Comment