With September’s exhibition atĀ The RopewalkĀ coming up fast, I’ve been so busy preparing, that I haven’t had much time to think about making new printing plates. Last week though, all that changed. I was able to devoteĀ the best part of two days to it, so I headed for the garage and all those bags of materials, ready to make a mess. This is how Six by Six by Eleven came about.

Recently, I’ve loved working in the (for me) small format I call ‘6×6’. At roughly six inches square, it allows me to miniaturise many of the platemaking techniques I’ve been using for a while into something that is relatively quick to create. At the same time, I’m able to experiment with scaling down my mark-making techniques and play with the space, particularly around what happens at the edges. I like the tension that occurs atĀ the perimeter of a plate; sometimes I ‘hold the image back’, as if at the edge of an imaginary cliff; sometimes it’s interesting when I allow a material to spill or break out of the confines of the four sides. As ever, for me it’s about responding to what I feel the material ‘wants’ to do ā€“ it just feels right, or appropriate.

With the luxury of time I had, I decided to work even more quickly than usual. I prepared eleven birch plywood plates by coating them on both sides with three coats of quick-drying varnish. Then, IĀ grabbed some materials from all those bags of stuff, looking for interesting texture combinations. Without glueing any thing down, I quicklyĀ move elements around.Ā Always responding to the material, sometimes the arrangement is simple and flat, whilst others become more interesting through layering.

So, here they are…

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with edging material
Edging material: 1

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with edging material. (close up 2)
Edging material: 2

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with filler and carborundum
Filler and carborundum

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with stuck glasspaper
CutĀ glasspaper shapes

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with stuck glasspaper (close up)

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with hessian

Hessian fibres

Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with carborundum shapes (close up)

Carborundum: I used a card stencil to spray glue lines, before sprinkling the powder

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with stuck glass paper shapes

CutĀ glass paperĀ shapes, with punched holes and scalpel scoring

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with stuck glass paper shapes (close up)

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with stuck fabric webbing

Fabric webbing

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with stuck glass paper with holes

Glasspaper, with punched holes and scalpel scoring

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with stuck glass paper with holes (close up)

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with stuck glass paper with various edging materials (close up 1)

Various edgingĀ materials

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with stuck glass paper with various edging materials (close up 2)

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate with torn dishcloth

Torn dishcloth

Six by Six by Eleven: birch plywood printing plate: all eleven plates

AllĀ eleven plates!

The next day, I finished the plates with more varnish layers, before placing each plateĀ under a heavy weight. This helped to flatten out the plate surface and to make sure that all elements were firmly stuck.

Tomorrow, I’ll be off to the Print Room at the University of Lincoln for an entire day printing these plates. It’s been so long ā€“ I can’t wait!

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