Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Using a Cuttlebug as a printing press for Dry Point Printing using acetate sheets and Lino Cutting
After playing with a borrowed machine, I have just bought myself a Cuttlebug which is an embossing and cutting machine, with potential for cutting tags, alphabets and embossing backgrounds... and I am already using it for that.
However, when I first tried it out, it also occurred to me that it might be possible to use (or maybe that is abuse) the machine as a printing press...
I have been doing a chunky house swap for atcsforall.com, so I had made 6" x 4" drawings of house fronts for that, so I thought that they would make ideal linear shapes for printing from.
I have to say it took a bit of trial and error!
I used a water soluble black printing ink (Calder colours Ocaldo block printing water colour) rolled it out on a plastic tray with my printing roller and then rolled the black ink over the acetate plate. Because it is clear I always scratch the surface with a finger nail before I get started to make sure that the incised side is facing up.
I had not got any scrim, so after pushing the ink into the plate with a rectangle of cardboard, I scrubbed the ink off using newspaper. It is VERY messy so I used disposable latex gloves. It took several goes to clean the plate and a lot of pressure.
Then I took the gloves off and washed my hands so that I would not be gunging up my new machine!
I had already dampened some coloured card by spraying it with water and then interleaving it between sheets of kitchen roll.
I placed the plate face down on to a sheet of the damp paper.
Then I carefully sandwiched the plate in lots of newsprint so that
a. there was no stray ink to get on the Cuttlebug
b.there was a certain amount of give when the print went through the roller.
I put it through the machine using the normal configuration recommended for embossing - first plate a, then plate b, then the sandwich of print, then the other plate b on top and wound it through the machine..
First I made the paper too wet and the print was watery.
Then I tried again and the prints were too faint (it is sounding like the three bears!).
But I still thought it ought to be possible so I went back to the acetate plates.
I went over each plate again and cut the lines again with a slightly broader etching needle.
I also made the printing ink a little more liquid with a squirt of water from a sprayer to make sure that the ink went really well down into the etched lines.
(It's probably not a good idea to change two things at once but I was a dying to see what I got).
And here are my first successful plates.
I used a Tim Holtz Distress ink pad which I rubbed over the surface of the lino which was lying in a sandwich of paper - this also printed very well, though it is easier to take lino prints than the dry point as you can take a print off lino by rubbing the receiving paper on the back with a baren.
However, I am very pleased with my first experiments - especially the dry point as it is impossible to take prints from the acetate plates without using some sort of press.
Mmm now for some chine-collee perhaps?