Tuesday, 17 April 2012


I have mentioned gum arabic transfer in previous posts, it is a technique I use a great deal to start off sketch book pages and allows me to place a photographic element into my compositions.
For some time I have been aware that it is possible to use gum arabic transfer as a colour separation print. So with this image as a starting point I had a play.

First take your colour original and using photoshop produce a set of colour separations, yellow, magenta, cyan and black. My long suffering computer whizz of a friend Jane did this for me, for which I really thank her. These 4 copies must be in a contrasting black and white and printed using a toner copier...not ink jet. Have them photocopied. Cut your images so that you have a registration corner where they will all match, mine is bottom left which will turn into bottom right when I print.

Set up your colours, I am using oil based etching ink from Intaglio Printmakers in Magenta, Process Yellow, Cyan Blue and Black. Add a small amount of linseed oil to the ink to slacken it off.

Lay your yellow copy on a piece of baking parchment and cover the back then the front liberally with gum arabic. I get mine from Hawthorn Inks.

Place copy image side up on a magazine as it will stick to newspaper and you can reuse the parchment to gum another copy. Roll the ink in thin layers all over the copy.

Take inked copy to the sink, I always place it on a piece of perspex at this point and spray with a plant spray bottle until most of the ink has shed off the white areas. The water will dissolve the gum arabic taking the ink with it and the greasey toner marks will hang on to the ink.

I ink all my copies before I print, leaving them to drain on blotting paper

You are now ready to print. Place the yellow copy down first, I use Snowdon Cartridge paper, 300gms, anything thinner makes the receiving surface buckle with the wetness.

Place a sheet of blotting paper on top and rub with a wooden spoon. Repeat this process with the red, blue and lastly the black copies matching your registration corners.

The ink releases onto the paper. I quite like the inaccuracy of the registration.
If I had wanted the look of the original image I would have just printed it out. I intend to try a print using a different set of reds, yellows and blues. Have some fun with it, experimenting is very rewarding.

This post would not have been possible without the technical support of my friend Jane and the photographic skills of my son Toby. Thankyou to you both.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


I have been inspired to post the Jubilee mug that I made for Studio Fusion after seeing Ruth Ball's posting about the silver spoons she is making. http://www.ruthball.weebly.com/ . Click on , Visual Diary. There is no comparison as Ruth is a talented silver smith and it will be fascinating to see the stages in making and enameling this silver treasure. Her post about the course we were both on at West Dean is also worth reading.

Studio Fusion - Commemorative Mugs, April 5-August 12, http://www.studiofusion.co.uk/

Saturday, 7 April 2012


I have just come back from a blissful 4 day course at the College of West Dean near Chichester.
Enamel for large -scale public art with Elizabeth Turrell explored enamelling onto a steel substrate and culminated in a day on the Isle of White visiting AJ Wells & Sons to work on a larger sample.
These samples were made in the first 2 days of the course and are about 4in x 4ins.

Flexing our artistic muscles and warming up for our visit to the factory.

AJ Wells is the company that makes the Underground station signs...yes they are enamelled. The tour of the factory was fascinating and a real eye opener to see enamel on an industrial scale. They work with artists to create public art projects too...I can only dream.

Here is my panel after screen printing the colour onto the surface and the mask is being removed.

This kiln is a touch larger than mine at home, but the same temperature. Here my panel is going in for a 15min firing.

Waiting for it to cool down. I had the opportunity to do one firing on my panel, so I have a cunning plan to finish it and when I have I will share the piece with you all.

It is very exciting to make larger work and has given me a taste for it, the possibilities are amazing. Thankyou Elizabeth, West Dean and particularly AJ Wells for letting artists loose in their busy factory.