First test with Baldwins Intaglio Ground


Before winter break I ordered some BIG (Baldwins intaglio ground) from Trefeglways studio in wales. I have been excited to try this less toxic alternative to traditional grounds, as I’m not getting very comfortable with Z*Acryl acrylic grounds (although I do want to try to get better at their airbrush aquatint method. More on that later).

There are some things about BIG that will take some getting used to, but I have barely scratched the surface (haha). As far as a ground to draw into, on the first try it worked beautifully – smooth and even with no flaking or chipping as I cross-hatched.
I need to test out the stop out method of thinning the ground with lavender oil next. … and then aquatint…which is done with sandpaper and will probably take the most getting used to.

Steps so far:
1. Roll on the ground with a brayer, inking in several different directions. It should be similar to inking a relief block. It is now ready for use as soft ground (haven’t tried yet -more tests to come! )

2. Set the ground by heating. I don’t have an oven (the recommended way is by using a hair drier aimed into a box) but I used a hot plate and it worked great. I wasn’t very scientific about it but I heated for approximately 6 minutes at around 200 degrees (recommended is 6 min at 275). Then I let it cool, drew and etched!

3. Remove the ground.  I used washing soda and a green solvent. The recommended way is to use brasso followed by a natural paint stripper (I want to try citrasolv or something like that). I degreased with bon ami and printed my plate. It’s so much easier than cleaning with mineral spirits!

Paper marbling samples


Yesterday I learned to marble both with carageenen and in the suminagashi style.  The examples above are with carageenen on Canson paper. 
Prep: Blend 3 scoops carageenen with 6 cups water
Let sit over night.
Mix 1 tbsp alum with 1 cup warm water to dissolve (wear gloves). Coat paper wIth alum and let dry.
To marble: apply golden fluid acrylic to surface of carageenen in a tray.  You can paint or splatter. Use a comb for certain patterns. Lay paper flat on the surface and smooth to remove bubbles.  Peel up and rinse with cold water until paper is no longer slimy.

Suminagashi: put “float paper” circles in a tray of water,  and drop color into the paper to create circles and patterns.

Both are surprisingly easy and give great results!
See patterns : university of washington and at

Mokulito workshop: Results

Here are several findings and tips for a successful print:

–         The materials that we used included birch plywood and oak ply, sharpie paint markers, sharpies, litho crayons, china markers, and lithographic tusche.

–         Ewa’s process involves using foam rollers instead of brayers, however we found that a regular printmaking brayer works well.

–         In our process, lithographic tusche did not work – it lifted off the plate and didn’t print. We did not determine whether this was due to the type of tusche, or its age. Clarissa recommends using new materials for drawing, whether it is ink or sharpies.

–         Two hours is the stated minimum processing time. We left our plates processing overnight, and it seemed that less greasy drawing materials needed more time to process. However, Clarissa has been able to get an image to ink up after 45 minutes of processing.

–         China markers didn’t work – they transferred from the plate to the paper completely on the first few prints and then disappeared

–         Sharpie paint marker worked the best! Regular sharpie did not show up, but left traces on the block that inked up after several passes. Clarissa found that colored paint markers (she used red) make it easier to see when your block is completely inked up.

–         Beware of brayer marks. This technique is quite messy as ink will quickly transfer from plate to sponges to hands. Work quickly and avoid over inking your plate as this may cause the background to scum.

–         The ink must be very runny – adjust this with linseed oil. Clarissa also had success using setswell or easywipe to make the ink less sticky.

–         This process is very similar to gum Arabic transfer and monotype, as you will not always be able to tell when you will get a good print, and the drawing materials may begin to break down depending on what was used. Clarissa was able to print a plate with paint marker for an edition of 8 with no sign of disintegration, but the block will most likely only hold up for an edition of 10-15.

–         Similar to lithography, mokulito works best when the plate is not too wet, as water will lift the ink up off the surface. If your brayer is picking up ink from the slab when you recharge it, there is too much water on your brayer.

–         Use quick passes to “snap up” ink with the brayer, as you would with lithography.

–         Inking the plate with the grain seems to work the best, but you may want to alternate to avoid brayer marks

–         When you change colors, there is no need to clean off the plate – simply roll up with the next color. You could try to roll excess ink off on newsprint.

–         Think of your image as having plate tone from the wood. If you want white, use woodcut tools to carve it out.

–         Birch plywood grain comes through upon printing, and it is difficult to tell where grease from handling may appear. Stickers from the hardware store will pick up ink and should be paid attention to. It is advised to sand the wood as much as possible for a smooth, stone like surface.

–         Shina plywood provides a smooth surface with less grain.

–         Oak plywood had a strong grain, was difficult to carve into, and took longer to soak up the oil from drawing materials. If you are looking for a print with lots of grain, this could be advantageous.

–         Refresh with gum often

–         Ewa states that plates cannot be reused, but Clarissa had some success with marks showing up with an old plate that was re-gummed and reprinted. However, when she tried it a third time the block rolled up completely, probably due to the oil in the ink becoming part of the plate’s image.