Thursday, 1 December 2011

Christmas cards

Christmas cards,well it's that time of year.When my two grandsons were here in September I asked them to produce a couple of sketches each of Christmas scenes,the English boy James is 8 and the French one Owen is 10.I reduced them and did the usual transfer to copper plates and then printed off a batch of each,I did end up hand colouring each card to save time,but i am resonably happy with the results.These cards will be for family and friends.    

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Spanish Break

 "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain".Well not today it dosen't,its falling on the Costa's.We are in Spain for an autumn holiday.One of my family has a holiday apartment in Calpe so we have driven down from Brittany to spend a few weeks escaping the worst of the weather further north.It hasn't worked today and rain and strong winds are predicted this week

 This is what we expect to see in Spain at this time of the year,warm sunny weather and a chance to have a late swim.

This is the weekly market at Altea with the Sierra Bernia  in the background.An opportunity to buy that must have bag or pair of shoes,there are plenty to choose from here. 

How many different types of palm are there.I particularly like the bark on the trunks
I think I am going to
do some sketches with a view to doing a print when I get home.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Trial Print

Now that the family have returned to their homes after the summer holidays I can get back to my printing.This is the old lighthouse at Nantouar not far from my house.It's now a holiday home and sits empty for most of the year,shame, I love this building it has so much character.
This is my trial print,whoop's just noticed that the "R" is round the wrong way.I haven't tried removing errors from the copper plate so this will be good experience.
I have done a bit of hand colouring just to get a feel for final result.I think i am going to do a pink background which might suit.
The aquatint is achieved by using acrylic car spray,just a dusting from about 20inches away.To be continued!

Monday, 22 August 2011


The family are here on holiday so not much is getting done .Both grandson's one French ,one English are ready for the fishing trip I promised them.Eager beavers. 

Ready to go

Preparing the dingy

I picked a nice calme day so it should have been good,its a shame that the fish didn't agree ,caught nothing! Never mind try another day.

Is'nt it about time I caught something?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A distraction

Curry night!what's this got to do with printing?Well it's my turn to cook tonight and it's curry.
While I wait for the chicken to cook I'm looking out of my kitchen window at the Swifts or could be house Martins feeding on insects it's been a warm day and the brood that's been nesting in the little barn across the lane are out in force feeding on the evening insects.
What fantastic little birds.I guess that they are feeding up before the long trek home to Africa.
I can feel a print coming on.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

My first print

This week i have been trying out my press.I decided to etch my plates using ferric chloride as it can be posted in granular form and then be made up into a solution.I have no experience with this material so i thought i might make a test piece to get an idea of what the results would be for a set amount of time in the acid.After covering the plate with liquid ground I used an etching needle to inscribe a copper plate with 2,3,6,12,24 and 48 min marks,exposing the whole plate for 2min, washing off in water and after drying covering the 2min marks with stopping out varnish.It then went back in the acid for 1min to complete the second etch.I carried on masking and etching the plate in the same way halving the etch time until the last 48min mark was etched for a further 24min.I hope this makes sense.Anyway it seemed to work and I now have an idea how dark an etched line will be for a given amount of time in the solution.I know that other factors are involved the concentration of the mix and the temperature have an influence,but it will do to start.      

I call this first print "Elvers" it seemed an easy in for a first print but after my initial sketch, actually etching through the ground to give a smooth flowing line was very difficult because unlike a sketch you can't just rub out the line and re-draw it.I think my home made scribers were not helping so i am going to invest in a proper tool.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

printing press part 3

The main assembly of the press is now complete so its time to strip everything down so i can spray the individual parts.This will now have to be left for a day to harden off before re-assembly.
The following day the first job is to locate the rollers in their respective bearings in one half of the press frame.The next is the attachment of the 12mm studding that i have used to connect together both halves of the press.To the top two sets of studding i have included small roller bearings to help support the main press bed and to give it a smooth operation.

The top half of the press is then lowered onto the rollers and studding,completing the main structure.
 All that remains is to make the press bed .I have decided to experiment with 18mmMDF and ply with a 2mm steel plate fitted under the bed . I can't wait to try out the press on an etching i have been working on ,but in my haste
to finish the press ,i have forgotten to order the blankets ,so i will have to wait a bit longer to do the first trial print.
I have been a bit restricted on the width of the press because the design has been based around the main rollers that were given to me but i think that it will at least enable me to start work and perhaps enlarge the press as i gain more experience.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Printing Press part 2

After a short trip back to the U.K for a family wedding I am returning to my work on the press.Whilst in the UK I managed to find someone to do some lathe work for me to finish off the main spindles and to turn up a boss centre for the main wheel.I have made up some dummy spindles to enable me to Aline  the bearings. 

Now i have the machined parts i have been able to start assembling the roller assemblies and the main wheel. I do have a m.i.g welder and a pillar drill to do all the necessary work.The handles for the main wheel were donated by a friend,unfortunatley there were only two, so i found a rubber door stop for the third handle which will do for the moment.                                        

Monday, 25 July 2011

preparing the copper plate

I am working on this whilst i wait for other materials to arrive to enable me to finish my press.
I do have some reasonably sized copper sheets,which i have had for some time cluttering up the workshop they are about 1.2 mm so they should be ok.
The first job was to cut the sheets into smaller pieces,giving me a selection of sizes on which to start my etchings.
The copper cuts fairly easely with sheet metal hand shears,although it does leave the edge a bit puckered.I delt with this by gently hammering the edge with a small ball pein hammer on what would be the back face of the plate.This was followed by filing the plate square and then putting a chamfer on the edge of the plate.
I found that the best way to clean up the face was to use 400grade wet and dry paper .This seems to remove most of the scratches.
I start off using the paper dry and then finish with using it wet this gives a finish suitable for polishing.

On the bottom right you can see theplates before and after dry sanding .I finish my plates with a motorised polishing mop .This speeds up the finishing process    considerably.
                                 The last job is to clean the plate .I have been using pummice with water which seems to work well  and leaves a matt finish to the plate ready for varnishing. I have finished 6 plates and they look ok but the proof of the pudding is in the printing!  

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Intaglio . Getting started

I retired to Brittany in the north of France from the U.K about 5 years ago and after finishing the restoration of my house,I have been thinking about setting up a small print workshop.I have always been interested in art since school days especially sketching and thought i might try some linocuts and etching.
On a recent trip back to the U.K I made a trip to Lawrence print supplies in Hove for some advice and came away with a basic kit to get me started.I could'nt wait to get back home to try out my new found hobby.
After a while it became apparent that a press would be needed to achieve the sort of results that I was looking for.These of course are very expensive items and funds would not permit such a purchase.
Having studied a few catalogues I came to the conclusion that if I wanted a press I would have to make one.
I have spent most of my life in engineering so this was not such a daunting prospect.The problem was getting hold of a supply of materials in France ,although my french is improving, buying materials is a bit different to buying food at your local supermarket.
I managed to source some 95mm steel rollers from a friend .These came from a timber mill and seemed ideal for the job in hand.The frame i decided would be made from box section and would be welded together to form the support for the rollers.
Press taking shape
This photo shows the bottom frame,bearings and bottom roller being trial fitted.
While I am waiting for more material to arrive,i have decided to do some work on the copper sheet i have in the workshop.It is a bit scratched so i am in the process of cutting it up into smaller pieces and starting the labourious process of sanding and polishing each piece so that i will have some sheets to get started on.