There are various way to make prints without a press—including silk screening, woodblock and linoleum block printing. However, it is also possible to make a painterly monotype by using plexiglass plates, Asian paper, and various types of water-soluble inks and crayons.
A key component to success is to properly moisten the paper by making a stack of alternately sprayer-misted and dry sheets of Asian paper. Use at least 5 sheets and start by placing the first on a sheet of plexiglass and evenly misting it. Continue with a dry and then a misted sheet until you have the number of sheets you want for your printmaking session. Top the whole stack with another sheet of plexiglass and place a couple of heavy books on top of this. The sheets should be ready for us in about 20 minutes.
In this particular series of pictures, I worked from a plexiglass plate that I had used as a palette for another print. This can be a very freeing exercise since it will encourage you to consider image and color possibilities that you might never have chosen with your conscious mind. Usually, I rework the palette a bit, with textures and wiping and so forth, before taking the first impression.
This initial print was made from a modified plexiglass palette onto a partial sheet of Asian paper. Often when I’m making prints, I use an 8”x 10” plexiglass plate as my rolling palette. If I see anything that appeals to me, I subsequently pull a print from the palette. It’s a great way to cut down on ink waste and also encourages you to take chances!
The next step is to block out major shapes with a water-soluble crayon by tracing onto a plexiglass plate placed over the initial print. This will serve as a guide for adding color, texture and line to the initial print.
Using the outlines as a guide, add more ink to the reverse side and wipe and adjust as needed.
Hold the plate carefully over your print to see where you might like to embellish it. You can also carefully ink up and place bits of materials such as gauze, plastic mesh and so on directly onto the print. This will transfer textured areas of color when you do your rubbing.
When you are ready, place the plexiglass plate, ink side down, carefully over the initial print. It is very helpful to have something stiff under the print before you do this. This will allow you to turn the whole “sandwich” over so that the print is now on top of the plate. Remove whatever was under the print, enabling you to safely flip it, and place a sheet of waxed paper directly over the back of the actual print. This will allow you to carefully rub the back of the print without damaging the paper. You will also be able to see a bit how the ink is taking.
By carefully peeling back the print from the plate, working to ensure that it doesn’t slip, you can check your progress and make some adjustments to the plate or just rub more. If you need to, you can also totally remove the print, rework the plate, and re-register, sandwich and flip as before.
After many adjustments, this is the final print. I did experience some distress to the paper from all the rubbing I did but it was fairly minor. It could be corrected by backing the print with another sheet of paper—possibly attaching them with Nori paste. However, I consider the amount of damage insignificant.