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Old 03-22-2012, 07:48 PM
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mstuarte mstuarte is offline
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Maybe a new wrinkle in making the Gelatin Plate

I am using a larger plate these days (14" square or larger.) I actually cobbled together my own form with plexiglas and some left over plastic from a tub surround project. Silicone caulk and I was ready to go. Of course, now it takes up lots of space in the fridge, so I just left it on the studio table... where it got delightfully funky.

I thought... hmm... vinegar retards mold... according to research, it also makes gelatin firmer. Of course I'm so practical that I"ve been refreshing the same gelatin batch for several months. Except for the slight discoloration, it's been fine.


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Old 03-23-2012, 09:59 AM
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Re: Maybe a new wrinkle in making the Gelatin Plate

I realize that I loaded this post before I finished (bleah)
So what I did was add about 1/4-1/2 cup vinegar to the 'refresh'. Plate does seem firmer. Won't know about 'lastability' for a few days. Will be printing today. Solar Systems!
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Old 04-02-2012, 02:58 AM
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Re: Maybe a new wrinkle in making the Gelatin Plate

I'm curious how it has worked out. mabye you can post an update how is the vinegar doing in it now?
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:47 AM
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Re: Maybe a new wrinkle in making the Gelatin Plate

Due to lack of space in the fridge, the gelatin plate has had to reside on the bench downstairs, covered by my new plexiglas form. The basement is cooler, and after nearly a week, the plate seems to be holding up better than previously. I've still printed a bunch and it's not cracking/breaking up yet. The mold issue seems slightly reduced (some around the edge)... altho a little mold seems to add some character to the print that I like. The plate still offers up that funky odor. Shrinkage seems about the same for a week out of the fridge (I usually wrap it with cellophane). About 1/4 inch around the four sides. I might even try swiping it with a paper cloth damp with vinegar to see if that delays the decay. Overall I think the addition of vinegar to the gelatin seems to be helping longevity while not changing the quality of the printing surface.

After nearly 5 months of 'refreshing' the same plate (I would add about 1/2-1 cup of fresh gelatin mix each time to make up for loss or dehydration), I went to Woodmans and bought a new canister of bulk gelatin. I might retire this batch in the next couple weeks. Personally, I like to be practical and let the degrading batch give up what it gives up.

Side note: As cool as Akua Kolor inks are, I can't seem to quite find a role for them in the gelatin plate process. I have been using very pale tones, laid down as the first or second color layer (backgrounds)... but they don't seem to combine with the normal relief inks (even when dried). I may reserve them for monoprinting on plexi through a press... but will keep trying them each session.
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Old 04-05-2012, 06:41 AM
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Re: Maybe a new wrinkle in making the Gelatin Plate

I am so squeaky new to printmaking, that I am curious with what is probably a few stupid questions...

1. What keeps the mold you mention from transfering onto your paper or ink when you print?

2. Also, we learned about the difference in line quality between etchings, drypoint & engraving in class yesterday. It seems like each various technique has its own special properties or qualities to contribute to their prints, so now I'm wondering what are the special attributes that make gelatin printing your choice to explore right now? I love your prints, so I'd love to hear your take on it, if you don't mind.

3. How did your "solar systems" turn out? Did you post pics somewhere?
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:08 AM
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Re: Maybe a new wrinkle in making the Gelatin Plate

Marge:
I need a break (with my coffee) so I'm happy to offer a few of my observations.

First Why I like Gelatin Plate Mono Printing -

For years, my main idea of creating images was painting (oils), drawing, and mixed media (lead block, cattle marker, wax pencil, oil sticks, etc) on heavy paper. Around the studio I didn't really understand printers and how they would go through this long, elaborate process to create their image. Then I started to do more lino blocks around the holiday for cards, and my brain clicked: the brain the soul love the details of a process. Perhaps as I aged a little, my mind and my soul appreciated the focused elements of a process, steps, etc.

Each printing process has its own procedure and steps. I think I was drawn to the unusual method and process. Also, my abstract and messy side liked the spontaneous layering (vs. rigid registration). I like how the colors vary from very fat to translucent, and how each stencil type (stems to hand cut) create their own unique line, window and ghost - much different than the cut or etched line. I LOVE the richness of oil inks, BUT I like the fact that this process works only with water based inks - making for a quicker turn around and less 'fragrant' (depending upon who you talk to) studio. (I actually LOVE the smell of linseed oil and oil based inks and paints.. but that's another story). I also like the sheer volume of work created, charging up the learning curve.

I love the fact that these are mono prints - even though many have the same central form/theme. Each is unique. Mono printing was always a mystery to me. No more. Sometimes I don't let previous layers complete dry. The next 'lift' will be heavily or lightly influenced by this. Sometimes 'wet' ink on the paper will be transferred back to the plate and picked up by the next ghost image print - creating a print that has 'genetic' print material from multiple images. These happy accidents or surprises are an essential part of why I like it: I am NOT totally control of what is going on (woo hoo!) I use newsprint to do ink lifts for ghosts or cleaning residue off the plate before I print the ghost. ONe of the several newspapers I use must use some funky soy based ink because, when I use it part of the news print will transfer to the gelatin plate and to the next print! I'm not even sure with which paper when or how this happens! It's very subtle... the surprise of not entirely knowing what I'll see when I lift the paper makes this process VERY exciting. This is also what makes it a process that will produce some klunkers too... BUT it's those mistakes that beget learning and application down the line.

MOLD: Mold does not get transferred to the print. If the mold, pitting or cracking are bad, they transfer to the print in texture. Mold resists ink so it turns up in various ways, degrading the line, cloudiness, blotchy, etc. Here's an example:

If I am attentive to my gelatin plate (keeping it refrigerated or refreshed frequently) mold will not become an issue or part of my prints. If the plate is left out, at the end of it's use, it does. So I can't plan for mold... it's one of those wonderfully uncontrollable elements. I will also say that I think the injection of some vinegar into the last refresh HAS helped. It's spring here, the plate has been left on the bench for over a week, and all is pretty good.

The SOLAR SYSTEMS

What happened to them is very typical of this process as well: An idea that seems viable in the mind is not always a good one on paper (so to speak). I did a few (sort of arranged some 'planets' receding back in space)... and I just didn't get charged up about they way they were turning out. Actually if you go back to the thread with the last 4 cat images, look at #2: you can see the vestiges of some planetary discs under the cats. I found them more useful for printing over vs. carrying them through. Another good point: some ideas that fail often see a second life as the backgrounds for new prints - altho they can easily get muddy and murky and dark... and then they become trash -eerrr... part of the learning process.

well I've rambled on long enough.
I do plan to use some of the Akua Kolors and do some plexiglas mono prints through my baby press... and of course wood and lino prints, but the gelatin plate is SO fun and generates alot of energy for me.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:31 AM
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Re: Maybe a new wrinkle in making the Gelatin Plate

Forgot to say, for my latest gelatin plate, I did add the vinegar. It smells like vinegar! But it seems just as good, and sturdy, but I have no idea if it will aid longevity (I would need a 'control' plate), but its great tip, and I've tried it.
As for mouldy plates, I do find that very old plates start transferring the gelatin adding a very faint sheen to the work, much like a spritz of varnish. Also makes them slightly less watersoluble for future work. Does not seem to have a bad effect at all, but at that point it's getting beyond gross. ;-)
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Old 04-19-2012, 01:19 PM
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Re: Maybe a new wrinkle in making the Gelatin Plate

After nearly 7 months of 'refreshing' my gelatin and adding a fresh 1/2 to 1 cup of new gelatin (to account for dehydration) I am retiring the plate. He/she's been a good friend and source of inspiration and great images as well as providing countless hours of frustration and annoyance while offering up that funky old moldy gelatin smell. The plate is no the rich color of dirty, opaque caramel. It's hard to tell what color I am actually rolling (ha ha).

BUT... this plate - the first with a vinegar addition hwas been on the work bench for 3-4 weeks, never refrigerated, and only covered with the plexi form between sessions... and tho it is getting a fine fur of mold, I think that it is holding up better than past plates. I'm going to use a vinegar addition from now one... and it also smells a little better over time.

Side note #1: tho Linda Germain shows her blending her gelatin before microwaving, I've had good luck just dicing it up into small cubes and melting in the Micro. Just make sure it's all melted and stirred up a little.)

Side note #2: so far I've managed to sell 5 prints from my last show. Yea! So that should cover about 3/4 of the art supplies I've bought over the last year.
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Old 04-19-2012, 04:12 PM
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Re: Maybe a new wrinkle in making the Gelatin Plate

Congrats!
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