Monotype no. 18: Aquarelle crayons dissolved in water, painted on plexiglass prepared with gum arabic. The gum arabic beads up slightly when applied to the plexiglass, and is visible in the print in the lower right hand corner. Every tutorial I’ve read on watercolor monotypes suggests lightly sanding the plexiglass first, to give the watercolor a bit of “tooth” to hang on to, and I’ve consistently ignored this advice. That may help to account for the beading up of the gum arabic. I also recall a college printmaking class where our professor suggested applying the gum arabic with a wadded-up piece of tarletan cloth…another step that I’ve been skipping.
This is the registration system I’ve been using for my combination monotype/relief prints, a technique explained in the peerless Magical Secrets books published by Crown Point Press. The upside down, backwards “L” shaped strip of copper is taped down to the press bed, with a scrap of foam core next to it. The wide L fits snugly into the inner corner of the small L. The plate to be printed (shown as copper here, but usually plexiglass) fits into the wide L. The wide L is carefully removed from the press bed without moving the print plate. Leaning over the printing press, straining to turn the levers that adjust the printing pressure, I somehow managed to punch myself in the face. Surprised, distracted, and likely cursing out loud, I forgot to remove the wide L shaped piece of copper.
Here you can see where the copper embossed the paper. (Also, either the plexiglass shifted or the copper jig. Sometimes I think the title of this blog should be “how to completely screw up your prints.”) After the print has completely dried, I’ll soak the paper again and run it through a press with a plexiglass larger than the paper. I hope to find out 1) if the watercolor will be destroyed by soaking it after it’s dry and 2) if embossing can be removed by printing with a “blank” plate. I’ll add a layer of relief printing to this image eventually, but I have to admit that I’m beginning to see the potential for watercolor monotypes as an interesting technique when printed alone.