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.
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. In this exhibition, Hester has used 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. The design is lain reverse side up on the solarplate and glass is placed on top to hold the acetate flat. The plate is exposed for approximately 3minutes in direct sunlight and the black parts of the design block out the light whilst the clear parts let it through. On contact with UV light the photopolymer hardens and when the exposure time is over the whole plate is washed in water. The soft parts, which were not exposed, wash away and leave a raised design. The detail that can be achieved is incredible and the plate can be printed using intaglio or relief methods. Depending on the methods used to create the design, the print can resemble a lithograph, etching, relief print or photo etching. 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 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.