Printmaking

All the images on this site are original prints. This means that they are not reproductions but artworks in their own right. They are produced from plates made by hand and printed by hand on a bench model etching press in the artist’s studio. They are signed on the bottom right-hand corner and titled and numbered on the bottom left corner.
Collagraphs

In the true sense of the word, a collagraph is a print made from a collage but it has become a more general term for mixed-media printmaking. It is an experimental form of printmaking which utilises a plate that has been made in various ways to create a textured surface that can be printed in either intaglio or relief (or both). The design can be created by adding textures to a base board (usually of card, thin wood or metal) using paper, cloth, plant materials etc or adhesives such as glue, gesso & acrylic gel to the surface or by taking away from the plate to create layers. This can be done by cutting into a base board of card and peeling the top layer to reveal the soft textures of the board. There is enormous scope for experimentation and the final plate can often be inked up in different ways to achieve diverse results. The finished plate is inked up to print the intaglio (indented) surface by rubbing ink all over and taking the excess off with newspaper or cloth and this is printed using a cylinder or etching press where the pressure forces dampened paper into the indentations of the plate to pick up the ink and create an image of the textures of the plate. Or the raised surface can be printed using ink applied by rollers.

Photopolymer or Solar Plate prints

This is printmaking using photosensitive plates that have been exposed to the sun (or an artificial source of UV light) and developed using water. The plate is made from flexible steel and coated with a UV sensitive polymer and was originally developed to print designs onto packaging such as cardboard boxes and food bags.

A transparency is made using acetate with the image being transferred by either drawing directly onto it with opaque materials such as chinograph pencils or indelible markers or by creating a design and photocopying it onto the acetate. Hester most often uses a mixture of her own photographs or found images which she has then manipulated using a computer program called Photoshop. She then prints this onto the acetate. Hester created her most recent photopolymer work at the studio in Sweden using her reduction monotype techniques on acetate. She rolls printing ink onto a clear transparent plastic and then creates her image by wiping the ink away to bring light into the picture. This is combined by other methods of mark-making. When she has completed her image, she pins the transparency up to dry. Three days later (the ink is oil-based and slow drying) she exposes the transparency onto the photosensitive plate using a UV exposure unit. The plate has already been pre-exposed to a fine dot screen which helps create a ‘tooth’ on the final plate holding ink in the tonal areas. The clear exposed parts of the transparency react with the UV light and harden whilst the unexposed areas remain water-soluble. Hester then develops the plate in water to wash away the unexposed parts, dries it with a hairdryer and ‘cures’ it with a second exposure to UV light. Once hardened, the plate is ready to print intaglio like an etching plate. This is where ink is applied to the entire surface of the plate and then carefully wiped from the top surface leaving ink only in the indented or inscribed areas. The plate is passed through an etching press with dampened paper which is forced by the pressure into all the indentations of the plate. No chemicals are needed to expose or print the plate and it can be cleaned with vegetable oil making the printmaking safer and more environmentally ‘greener’.

Carborundum Prints

Carborundum is a grit that is normally used for grinding things. It comes in coarse, medium and fine grades and can be sprinkled onto a plate covered in adhesive to create a dense texture that will print as a velvety and rich tone. It can also be used as a paste which you can paint with to make gestural marks on the plate.