Sunday, March 16, 2014

Does It Go Round In Circles?

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.

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