Two boys

Here’s a print I made at East London Printmakers last week.

Two boys, etching, image size about 5inches by 3inches

I wanted to show how concentrated these people were, immersed in what they were doing, sitting on the wall.

It is printed on Fabriano Unica paper, using Charbonnel F66 traditional etching ink. Here is the copper plate:

The plate is made with hard ground lines, soft ground patterns, and three aquatint sessions.

I made some variations of this print. Here is one, using chine-collé.

Two boys, warm brown chine-collé

Sometimes in the printing process, magic happens. As I was packing for this print session, searching for paper, tissues, gloves, and other printing essentials, I encountered a thick envelope labelled “Old Prints”. I pulled out one of those, a street scene, with a vague idea of overprinting it. It is a drypoint I made years ago. The vague idea turned into a plan, and then a print. Here it is. I was really pleased with how it came out. The chine-collé is also a leftover from another project.

Two boys and street, combined image size about A5. Etching, drypoint and chine-collé.

Colechurch House – monoprint

Colechurch House on the South Bank is a brutalist office block. It makes a good subject for a packaging print. Since it is a a 1960s block, I added a 1960s type shape in chine collé.

Colechurch House – monoprint and chine collé, paper size,15″ x 12″ Shoji Baku Japanese Paper

The chine collé paper is Khadi Lokta Coloured saffron washi paper from Atlantis Art (ref: KPNI SA). The background paper for this print is Shoji Baku paper from Shepherds Bookbinders (ref: LRG 1859). The ink is Charbonnel traditional etching ink. I printed this on the Henderson Press at East London Printmakers. Here is a video of the “print reveal” (17seconds, silent):

Thanks to Evonne at East London Printmakers for filming me!

Here are the other 4 prints from this plate. They are all on a different, but similar paper: Tosa Washi from Shepherds, (ref: J632180)

The print was based on a sketch of Colechurch House last year. See this post:

Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1

Aficionados of 20th Century brutalist architecture need to hasten to appreciate Colechurch House. It is due for demolition and redevelopment. This month’s post in the marvellous “London Inheritance” site informed me about the planning application, so I rushed over there to draw a picture before the building became swathed in plastic. I drew this picture looking over the railings from London Bridge. This position commanded an excellent view of Colechurch House, but … Continue reading “Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1”

Here are more examples of the technique using a plate made from packaging material. I have written about the process here.

Boston Arms – relief print

This image is a by-product of the packaging print plate of the Boston Arms.

After I had cut out the packaging print plate of the Boston Arms, I was left with the “negative”: the top part of the plate. As it was on its way to the bin, I realised that I could use this to make another picture. So I retrieved it, and made this plate:

Relief plate*: top half is made of a biscuit packet. The bottom half of the biscuit packet was used to make the packaging print – see this post

I added a few people. This is a pub, so these are some people on their way to the pub.

I used this cardboard plate to make some prints. I painted it with shellac, to make it stronger.

Here are the prints, made on the Albion press at East London Printmakers. The prints are”collographs”: relief* prints.

I made the prints on top of some experimental monoprints made last year.

*A “relief” plate is one in which the ink is rolled onto the raised part of the plate. The raised parts print dark. A potato print, a lino print, woodcut or an ordinary rubber stamp is a relief print. This is by contrast to an “intaglio” print, in which the ink is wiped into the indentations and into engraved lines on the plate. The raised parts print light, and the lower parts print dark. My etchings and packaging prints are intaglio prints.

The Boston Arms – monoprint

The Boston Arms is in Tufnell Park, London, 178 Junction Road N19. I love the way this building presides over the junction.

Boston Arms monoprint 1, packaging print, paper size 21″ x 17″, on Shiramine Select Japanese paper

This is one of five prints I made with this plate made from a cardboard box of biscuits, experimenting with the “packaging print” technique.

The technique produces a twilight atmosphere, which I like very much, and seems suitable for a pub in winter. Here is a different print using the same plate.

Boston Arms monoprint 2, packaging print, paper size 14″ x 10″ Awagami Washi Masa Japanese paper

The Boston Arms is a Grade II listed building. The listing says “Dated 1899 in a panel on the Junction Road front. Designed by Thorpe and Furniss”, and goes on to describe its “Corinthian pilasters to the flat frontages, engaged Corinthian columns to the bow, all of black polished granite, supporting a fascia; scrolled pediments over former entrances with subsidiary pedimented panels between the scrolls,…”. It concludes on rather a flat note: “The interior has no original features of interest.”

It looks like a good pub. I’ve passed it lots of times, usually on an early-morning run, but I’ve never been inside.

Here is the map from the listing, showing the location:

Location of the Boston Arms (Historic England, listing)

Here is the plate from which I made the prints:

Print plate made from a soup carton
Boston Arms print, detail

Museum of London EC2 – monoprint

Here is an image of The Museum of London, in the south west corner of the Barbican:

Museum of London, packaging etching, paper size 21″ x 17″, on Shiramine Select Japanese paper.

The “plate” is made from a UHT milk carton. Here is the back of the used plate:

Back (unprinted) side of the plate.

Here is the front (print side) of the plate, before inking:

Front (print side) of the plate

To find out more about this technique, have a look at this page on my website (click link):

Print plates made of packaging

I have also sketched the Museum of London area:

The Museum of London EC2

From the highwalk on the Rotunda there is a really amazing view of the Museum of London and Bastion House. This whole view going to change radically, if the City of…

Read more…

Bastion House, London Wall

I hastened to draw the magnificent Bastion House, on London Wall. It is due for demolition. In the foreground you see the balcony and privacy screen of the flat in Andrewes,…

Read more…

London Television Centre – monoprint

Here’s another “packaging” monoprint. This was made using an empty box of tissues.

London Television Centre, monoprint from packaging, image size 14″ x 10″ [Available]

This is a tower block on the South bank of the river Thames, seen from the North bank. That’s the river in the foreground.

Here is the “plate”, before printing:

I have sketched this tower block here:

It’s due for demolition. So using discarded packaging to make an image of this building seemed to be appropriate. The building, though made of concrete and steel, is yet ephemeral, like my fragile plate.

I made the print on “Gampi smooth” paper from Shepherds of London. This handmade paper is thin, translucent, and has small inclusions and imperfections as you see on this detail photo:

The sky in this part of London is never empty. There are always seagulls, falling leaves, windswept paper, aeroplanes, police helicopters. And rain.

The ink for this print is Charbonnel F66 Black traditional etching ink from Intaglio Printmakers. I made the print at East London Printmakers on the Henderson etching press.

London Weekend Television, London South Bank. Paper is a bit over A3 size.

Here are some other prints made using the same technique:

Packaging monoprints

Walberswick Huts – monoprint

Here is a “packaging” monoprint I made of the huts in Walberswick.

Walberswick huts, monoprint, image size 8″ x 5″ [Available]

The print is made using a discarded carton from a box of aspirin. It looks like this:

Walberswick huts, plate made from aspirin carton.

The brown colour is shellac, a varnish which helps make the plate last a little longer. I make the picture on the shiny side of the medicine packaging, by cutting off the shiny surface to reveal the rougher cardboard underneath. The plate is very thin and fragile. This plate made 5 prints. I lost one of the chimneys during the process.

Here is an 11-second video showing the print coming off the plate:

The ink is JS Gutenberg Carbon Black etching ink from Intaglio Printmaker in Southwark. The paper is Gampi smooth from Shepherds of London, in Gillingham Street.

I made the print at East London Printmakers in Stepney, on their Henderson etching press.

Thank you to Karen Wicks @iacartroom for sharing her technique and her wonderfully inspiring work.

Here is another post using the same process:

Anchor Brewhouse, Horselydown Old Stairs, SE1

I am trying an experimental monoprint technique. The idea is to use packaging material to make intaglio “plates” which are then printed using an etching press. This is the first one. I printed it yesterday on the Henderson Press at East London Printmakers. This is a real building, a former brewery, just to the South and East of Tower Bridge. That’s the river Thames you see on the left of … Continue reading “Anchor Brewhouse, Horselydown Old Stairs, SE1”

Anchor Brewhouse, Horselydown Old Stairs, SE1

I am trying an experimental monoprint technique. The idea is to use packaging material to make intaglio “plates” which are then printed using an etching press. This is the first one. I printed it yesterday on the Henderson Press at East London Printmakers.

Anchor Brewhouse and Horselydown Old Steps, Monoprint. Image size 10″ x 6″

This is a real building, a former brewery, just to the South and East of Tower Bridge. That’s the river Thames you see on the left of the picture.

The “plates” are fragile, so I could only make 6 prints before the plate started deteriorating and the contrast started to go. Here is a picture of the plate, front and back. It is made out of a box of soup. I made the picture on the shiny, metallic-looking side, which is the former inside of the soup box.

The parts which print dark are made by cutting out the metallic coating of the soup box, leaving the rough cardboard underneath. I painted the plate with button varnish (shellac in alcohol) to make it a bit stiffer and more durable. Here’s what the plate looked like before printing:

Plate before printing, with annotations

Here is one of the prints peeling off the plate:

I tried making a video, but it was too difficult to hold the plate, the paper and the phone all at once. And there’s ink everywhere which I was trying to avoid getting on my phone. Next time I’ll see if I can get a fellow printmaker to hold the phone.

Ink: “JS”carbon black

The ink is traditional black etching ink from Intaglio Printmaker in Southwark. The paper is Zhao Zhe Chinese paper ref 11369 from Great Art on the Kingsland Road. The red seal on the finished print is made with a Japanese stone seal with red ink gifted to me by my friend and mentor Katsuhisa Toda 戸田勝久.

This printmaking technique is inspired by the work of Karen Wicks, @iacartroom on instagram.

The wonderful London Inheritance site has more about Horselydown steps here: https://alondoninheritance.com/the-thames/horselydown-old-stairs/

New Year 2022 – Bridges

Happy New Year! Here is my New Year Card for 2022.

“Bridges” – woodcut + watercolour, collage and printing

May 2022 be kind to us all.

In London there are many beautiful bridges.

One early morning I saw them all ranged out.

London Bridges at dawn, from the South Bank, looking West

I thought of them as images of hope: so many connections, so many different ways to get across, and that glow of the sunrise on the buildings beyond!.

Westminster Bridge was my model. It took many efforts to get the design to work as a woodcut.

It needed a bit of glow, to echo what I had seen in the sunrise. So I used iridescent watercolour, put on before the paper was printed.

Here is the wood block:

“Bridge” woodblock 10cm x 15cm

I did the printing at East London Printmakers, on a cast-iron press.

Then back at my desk I assembled the cards and sent them off.

"Composed on Westminster Bridge September 3, 1802 " 
by William Wordsworth

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Previous New Year cards are here:

“Coastal workshop” drawings and prints

Last weekend I participated in a workshop led by the artist and printmaker Fiona Fouhy. We worked on the beach and cliffs around Botany Bay, between Margate and Broadstairs in Kent, UK

Here is a selection of the pictures I made during the workshop.

This a drawing done using a piece of white chalk from the cliffs, plus some work-in-progress pictures.

Sketchers on the shore, Kent chalk on black paper, A3

Here is a drawing of the white cliffs, done in white cliff chalk.

White cliffs near Margate, Kent Chalk on black paper, A3

We made some monoprints, using a portable printing press, perched outdoors on the cliff top at Botany Bay.

Back in the garden, we made more monoprints, this time using colour. Here is my series called “The grass will grow over your cities”.

A long time ago I first heard this expression in an exhibition in Berlin. “Over your cities the grass will grow”is the title of a 2010 documentary film by Sophie Fiennes about the artist Anselm Keifer. At the end of the film the artist says “Over your cities grass will grow”.

According to Daniel K Brown (http://cargocollective.com/danielkbrown/Over-Your-Cities-Grass-Will-Grow) “He is paraphrasing line 34:13 from the Book of Isaiah: “Thistles will take over, covering the castles, / fortresses conquered by weeds and thornbushes””.

My St James’ Bible has it as “And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and thistles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be a habitation of jackals, a court for ostriches.” This is by way of a description of the “day of the Lord’s vengeance”.

My late father, the plant biochemist Prof. Don H Northcote, had a more positive view. He looked at paving stones and saw the plants growing in the cracks. “The plants will win in the end,” he asserted. I think he meant that as a good thing.

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