I love printmaking, I love the process from beginning to end even though it can be Deeply frustrating at times, and I really wanted to do right now. Unfortunately, my school is between semesters so I 1. Do not have access to a printing press, and 2. Do not have access to etching or block printing inks.
But I still have the to print, so I decided to see if I could do a technique I've never done before, at home: mono-printing. And along the way I learned some things that worked and some that did not, so I thought I would share with others.
Step 1: Supplies
So most of these supplies may be available to you except for #1. printmaking paper. I have a Hoard of scraps left from my semesters of printmaking, but if you do not have access to printmaking paper, watercolor paper is a good alternative! The paper sizing is similar as is the firmness and flexibility of the sheet, and it is cheaper more often than printmaking paper.
#2 a surface to print on, glass from picture frames, scraps of flat acrylic...
#3 acrylic paint
#4 paint brushes
#5 oil, either pure vegetable oil or WD 40. I prefer the veggie oil to WD 40 which I will get into later.
#6 water in a cup
#7 paper towels
#8 something to mix paint on
#9 something to flatten your pieces under, I'm choosing this large book.
Step 2: Oiling Your Base
The first step is setting up your matrix:
If you use WD 40 you're going to need to go outside and spray that, but at least for me it sprays an excess amount of oil, so then you'll need to wipe the surface with a paper towel to pick up excess oil.
For the veggie oil I used a sponge brush and then wiped off excess with a paper towel as well. The latter two photos are what it should look like: oiled enough that there is not a visually separate layer of liquid on top of your matrix, the oil has texture in it from either the paper towel or your brush and is just lightly layering the surface
Step 3: Wet Your Paper
In your experimentation you may find you take longer to create your images and need to do this a little bit later but wetting your paper is vital.
Wet it on the side you will be printing onto, that is all that is necessary, and it needs to still be wet/damp to the touch when you go to print.
Step 4: Paint on Top of Your Oil
Now you can go in layers, or you can go all out once, the only difference is if you go all at once and images overlap on your plate, what is the first layer laid down is the front of the image. Doing the painting in separate steps may be more intuitive to someone who does not do printmaking primarily, and it is the better option if you want starkly separated colors.
Step 5: Print
These are the best photos I have, but I used spoons, a mouse, a glue bottle, and my hand for the pressure. You just need something smooth pressing damp paper to the matrix and working the paint onto your image.
After printing you just get a paper towel with water and clean off your matrix for a new layer, or a maybe new piece.
Step 6: Things to Think About: the Thickness of Your Paint
I would like to give some notes to help you troubleshoot possibly issues; one is the paint, the thickness of paint is important.
So I set paint in a variety of thickness to demonstrate that always a bit of paint will be left behind, so if your paint is too thin the complete shape you created will not transfer, too think and it will smear.
The sweet spot is paint thick enough that it is the same color as it was on your brush -not so thin it appears a lighter shade- but translucent, and not standing proud from the surface of the matrix.
Step 7: Things to Think About: Reversed Printing
What is needed to print is flexibility, the paint getting pressed onto the paper, so if your matrix is of a flexible, translucent material you could print the matrix on top.
This could be beneficial if you want to make sure shapes are lined up in an exact manner, or if you feel you may smear the new shape with rolling pressure rather than vertical pressure.
Step 8: Things to Think About: Press Right Away
I was so focused on taking photos I did not press my papers right away so they are a bit warped. I am able to fix them easily by re-wetting them and leaving them to absorb the moisture, then putting them under the weight to straighten them out. Once the paint is dry you can continue to work into your pieces more with paint again or different tools if you wish, or just admire them as they are.
Step 9: Things I Learned on the Way: Wet Your Paper
These were two of the first ones I did, and I thought perhaps the oil would be enough of a lubricant in this situation.
But the oil is just there to assist the ink in leaving the matrix, not binding to the paper, or making the paper flexible enough to shape itself as it needs to to get the paint in all its little crevices. As a result, these pieces look like this, and unless you want this texture, wet your paper.
Another important thing that the top test shows is both lubricants are neccessary for a good image!
Step 10: Things I Learned on the Way: Oil Is Necessary
I did try this project without oil, and the results were not good.
I tried dish soap-water, wetting the matrix with straight water, and trying to paint really fast and slap in on there; none of these worked.
Step 11: Things I Learned on the Way: Don't Add Water to Your Paint
Unless this texture is of interest to you, then more power to you, this is what will happen. Adding water also makes it difficult to paint as, of course, water and oil are not friends, and reject one another.
Step 12: Things I Learned on the Way: Blot Your Oil
If you are seeing a visible puddle of oil, it will be the personality you will see on the paper, and if there is too much your paper will also get grease spots which is not my aesthetic.
Step 13: Have Fun, Try New Things
I have not explored all possible techniques so I still have much to explore, and I hope you do so as well and it is as enjoyable for you as it is for me.