Sidequests: one-offs and wobbles

In my entire life, I have had one manicure. It’s fine if I never have another one. On my hands, a coat of polish has a life expectancy of about six minutes; and there is no colour that would enhance my appearance as much as, say, a bucket on my head.

It’s not something I think about much, but in the last year I have watched a LOT of crafting videos, almost all top-down views of people’s hands working away at various kinds of printing. Quite a few of them (particularly the card makers) seem to go in for fancy manicures in a big way.

Most of the videos were about gel printing – a way of making monoprints by applying paint or ink to a squashy plate of plastic gel. The nature of this material means that you can transfer the medium onto paper without much pressure, so you don’t need a press. They are versatile and inexpensive, and you can, apparently, even make your own with a couple of packets of gelatin. Yeah, I’m not doing that.

So far I haven’t used the gel press to make a print from start to finish, although it has been useful for collage and Chine colle papers. It feel like I could do a lot more with it, but for now I’m not sure exactly what.

Collographs are something else I have had a go at, trying both relief printing (where the surface is printed from and cut-away parts aren’t seen, like in a linocut) and intaglio (the opposite: ink is pushed into the recesses of the print and the top surface wiped almost clean, like a lithograph or etching). Results have been pretty mixed, and intaglio printing was a total failure until I had oil-based ink – with the water-based ones, by the time I had wiped the top of the plate, the rest of the ink had dried and so no image, or just a few blotches. I like the idea of, being about to use found textures and interesting materials, and I have seen impressively sophisticated prints made with nothing but cardboard and wood glue, but I need to work on the technical approach before I think about making actual prints.

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