A few weeks earlier I made a bunch of prints using Styrofoam pieces, inspired by the tutorial and lovely images on Glittergoods (you must scroll down on her page to look at the wonderful framed composite of the kindergartners’ work! If I were a teacher I would totally be stealing that idea!). Printmaking is my all-time favourite thing to do. It’s such a magical process, because the print never turns out exactly the way you thought it would.
Anyways, when I saw the tutorial I thought it would be lovely to make a composite of ginkgo leaf prints. We have this large orange frame with a generic photo poster in it and we (or I) have been wanting to replace it with something more personal for some time. Ginkgo trees are another one of my favourite things. Did you know that they are living fossils? I thought that’s very cool. There’s also a certain elegance about them, the fan-like leaves fluttering in the wind.
Anyhow, this was a rather spontaneous project so I just used whatever I could find in the house. One could get foam pieces that are specifically made for printing, but I just cut out rectangles from, um, meat trays. I know. I know it sounds gross. But I did wash the trays 5 million times with antibacterial dish detergent. And I thought, don’t we use the same sponge to wash the forks and the bowl that raw meat was marinating in? I mean, we’re not going to eat the prints! Anyways, I digress. So here’s how I scratched the foam with a leadless mechanical pencil, using pressed ginkgo leaves as a guide:
The foam plates are quite interesting in themselves.
I didn’t have block printing ink (I should really invest in some), so I used blue tempera paint mixed with a bit of black watercolour. I considered using acrylic because it’s more tacky, but I didn’t want it to dry and get stuck on the brayer, because I only have one. I did try to use a brayer to roll the paint on the plates initially and be all printmaker-like, but it didn’t work out very well because the paint was too watery and slippery, so I used a paint brush instead. I think I might have improvised too much and used none of the proper tools, so half the prints didn’t turn out. But then that almost always happens with printmaking. Well for me anyways. So here I am contemplating my “keep pile” and “toss pile”.
At the end of contemplation, here are some of my favourites. The brush marks actually turned out quite interesting.
Here’s another print with the same plate.
And some smaller ones.
Trying a different view.
We decided not to put these into the orange frame because we felt that the prints were better viewed individually than grouped. But we thought of another idea for making scratch foam prints for the frame, which I will surely share when we get around to it :)
I still had a fabulous time making them though. Especially the part where I don’t have to worry about whether the plate is perfectly centered on the paper or whether the ink is rolled on evenly or whether the paper is torn on a perfect right angle or whether my fingers are perfectly clean so I don’t leave fingerprints on the paper.
I thought it would be fitting to end with this quote I saw on French Toast Girl’s Facebook page:
The practice of art isn’t to make a living. It’s to make your soul grow.
- Kurt Vonnegut