printing hands

Last November I wrote about a work in progress, a print combining digital printing and a collagraph. Have a look at that image and compare it to what follows below. My photos are not good but serve to illustrate the process to anyone interested in it.


As you can see above, I developed the image further using a collagraph plate of each hand, added a light background texture of grass paper and tweaked some details and colours. I printed this trial proof and planned to edition it soon after.

For various reasons, I did not get back to doing so until last week. It had been such a while since I’d worked on it that I had to do a few tests again. To my dismay, this time the digital print stuck to the inked collagraph plates as they went through the printing press! Tearing paper, tearing my hair, I spent hours testing ink consistencies, wetness or dryness of the paper and the pressure. Nothing worked satisfactorily. Usually if a collagraph has cured a longer time, it’s less likely to stick, so we in the shop could not understand what changed. I even tried a release spray from the sculpture department with no luck.

An etching printed well. So, we determined that it had to be the coating on this digital watercolour paper that does not agree with acrylic medium based collagraphs. Last year I used the same technique on a digital photorag paper with success. What to do next? I had already printed out the digital run of this print and did not want the expense of reprinting on another paper. A deep etched copperplate seemed the only way to match the textural quality I was after, but most of us in the shop don’t like the toxicity of that process anymore.


With encouragement from Bonnie, our fantastic shop technician, I decided to try inking and printing my own hands! First applying barrier cream on my hands, I pressed them into the ink spread on the glass plate, then test printed first on newsprint.


I pressed them directly onto the digital prints spread out on the table, re-inking my hands in between each. Scary yet exciting!


Look at the details of this cave-woman’s hand!


In the end, I think the direct handprints look even better than the collagraph ones.
‘Twas meant to be, for what better way to convey the cave artists’ hands?
Now for a title…

P.S. The paper colour is not quite this dark, more a warm white – poor photos, sorry!

February 25, 2008 in Being an Artist, Digital printmaking, Printmaking, Tools and technology by Marja-Leena