work in progress, monoprints, collaged on 300 lb. watercolor paper
For the past month or so I have been playing printing with a 6x6 inch gel printing plate, called a Gelli Plate. Gelatin plates have been around for ages, but require quite a lot of advance set up, and they do not last very long. Gelli plates are made from a polymer material, are easy to use and clean up, long lasting, and they work perfectly with acrylic paints. I have lots and lots of acrylic paints. I also already had leftover glass from framing, and a brayer, which is really all a person needs to get started.
The story with this project is that our local art league plans to partner with a business incubator, and is looking for good-sized abstract art for offices. I thought for a while about images of light bulbs, brains, the earth, gears, and a whole lots of other over-used imagery, and decided to fall back on a design loosely based on quilt patterns. I love vintage papers, so I printed on pages from an old child's dictionary, allowing a little bit of print to show through. I made the circles by impressing a lid from a jar of hair gel on the paint covered printing plate.
There have been challenges along the way. I adhere my papers by coating them, and the substrate, with a polymer medium, allowing it to dry, then using a tacking iron to adhere the papers to the substrate. My printed papers, even coated in medium, were more fragile than I knew. And perhaps I had the heat on the iron too high, because several of my papers bubbled and tore when I tried to heat fuse them. I ended up patching some small places to disguise the tears. Then I was unhappy with the design, because at that point all the circles were just empty rings, and the overall look was very dark. So, I went back into my stack of prepared printed sheets and cut out some circles, and tacked them into the previously empty rings. I like this better, because there is more variety in value, and more color.
I still need to go back and apply more heat to the edges of some circles to make sure they are completely adhered, and I still need to decide if I want the final collage to have a matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finish. Perhaps when my mat is cut it will help me envision what is best.
In the meantime I am enjoying the ambiguity of the repeated circle filled squares. They suggest all sorts of things to me, quilt squares, round pegs in square holes, diagrams, wheels, crop circles. I haven't decided yet.