I’ve been making some first experimental collagraph prints using my new printing press.  This first lot are really about getting the feel of the press and the process in my own studio (I’ve only ever done this kind of printing before either at college or on a course so this time I’m on my own!).  I’ve also been experimenting with how stitches react to being made into collagraph prints and the kinds of effects I might be able to achieve.

Here are a few of the first results (hot off the press!)

The prints are all still drying and I had to order some thicker blotting paper this week as the stuff I had wasn’t coping.  Later in the week, once I’d got my head round things a little I started to layer collagraph prints over some rust prints I’d already made.  Some of these are really interesting and I’ll show you more once they’ve dried off properly.



You’ve really got to prepare if you’re going to be spontaneous
David Hockney

I’m preparing to print but there is a lot to get ready before I can.  I’ve cut card for collagraph bases; made a registration sheet to go on the print bed; trimmed my press blankets to size; covered the bed in plastic so it is wipeable; made a board for weighing down damp paper; cut down my A2 paper to A4…

Before I can print I need to: buy some meths to dilute the shellac in; finish making and seal my first batch of collagraph plates; mix up some inks; soak and blot some paper…  

Meanwhile, I’m gathering together recent stitched paper samples and experimenting a little with stitches on the prints I made a few months ago

The weather is all over the place: yesterday it rained persistently for a few hours, then felt very spring like and I dried washing outside and took photos while there was sunshine streaming into the house, then I walked in the woods in wind and hail.  In my studio I now have daylight bulbs so at least the light is a bit more consistent in there.

print room

I spent a morning in the print room at college this week.  As a recent graduate I was able to apply for access to the facilities for this year and got it, so I felt it was about time I started making use of it.  As my studio is still a little way off being workable in and I needed to do something other than planning, paper work and sitting in front of this screen a session in the print room made sense.

I made two screens, one based on the silhouettes of items found beach combing a year or so ago and one using part of a poem written by a companion on the same trip. I purposefully made the text pretty small so that it wouldn’t all expose clearly and so some of it would be legible and some wouldn’t.  I wanted to experiment with this and use the shape of the words on the page as much as the words themselves.

I layered prints over pages from my sketch book that had been dyed, stained and rust printed, playing about with the tones already on the paper and using different combinations of prints.

Some of these pages will be worked on more, stitched into and further dyed.  Some are quite striking as they are.  All are part of a process, growing ideas, developing thoughts…  



I have some work in this exhibition of small prints in Hull.  I’m hoping to get over there at some point soon to see it.  It looks like there is a lovely mix of different print techniques.  

The work I submitted are rust prints with tea on paper, which have been stitched into with small seed stitches

The exhibition is on until 21st January.

>slow printing


I’m experimenting with the marks that can be achieved by laying items on to paper that have either been soaked in the remains of a dye bath, or rusty items that are laid onto wet paper (in this case wet with tea or with vinegar).  It takes time, but as the moisture dries I am left with some exquisite marks that are a curious mixture of planning and randomness – something I feel underlies so much of my work.

This one isn’t strictly printing, more dyeing, as the paper had been submerged in a dye bath with clamps to resist.  I love the randomness of the rust marks next to the straight line created by the clamp.



I took a couple of my ‘old fishing station’ bundles back there towards the end of the week to unwrap them and see what results I would get from the experiments I’d set up. They had definitely developed over the few days they’d sat on the veranda, colour seeping through in various places. The top one of the bunch had just sea weed in it, wrapped in silk. It seemed right to return the seaweed to where I’d found it. The others I wanted to bring home to give them longer to develop.

I was intrigued to see what would have happened to my rust prints that I’d left in the hut. When I got there the one on the shelf was just as I’d left it with some nice marks transferred from the rusty bits and pieces onto my paper.

The cows had been into the hut over night (probably to get out of the rain the previous day) and crashed about a bit. They had left their mark in various places amongst the ropes and ‘stuff’ on the floor. They’d also knocked my other paper off the box I’d left it on. There were marks on it from the rusty nails but also the odd foot print!

I unwrapped the thread that was binding my bundle tight then unrolled the silk, shaking out the bits of weed that I’d wrapped up a few days earlier.

The different types of weed left different marks and colours, some with quite distinct patterns from the veins and fronds.

As the silk unwound it flew in the breeze like a flag. I carried it to the edge of the water to rinse out the last bits of weed.

The silk dried quickly in the warm breeze and sunshine. I wet another small piece of wool felt and wrapped it around a big limpet shell, binding with linen thread. This one was to go home with me, along with a jar of sea water with a few of the rusty nails I’d found for future use.

>this week I:

>made some changes to my space at college – down came the inspiration images and references, up went fabric samples and print experiments;

did some dyeing with onion skins on folded paper and silk – shown here clamped ready to dye;

learnt to do Canadian smocking – my first attempt came out a bit wonky but I now understand how it works;

(I prefer it from the back actually)

did some printing and folding

and quite a bit of thinking!


Yesterday’s visit to Ruthin Craft Centre felt like a pilgramage. Anni Albers is such an important person in terms of her influence on contemporary textiles, an influence that also goes so much wider than that. Her books On Weaving and On Designing are littered with little nuggets of wisdom and insight that are applicable to any disciplne.

Knowing a little about weave I’m sure makes a real difference to what you get out of visiting an exhibition like this. I think if you understand (even part) of how these pieces have been produced it helps. Much of her work is seemingly simple but her understanding of her materials and processes is so evident.

I spent a long time looking very closely at this piece City trying to work out how on earth it was done and marvelling at it.

Although I really enjoyed seeing the textile pieces and the prints the small samples of experimental mark making (with a type writer) and texture made a big impression, as did watching the video of an interview with Anni in her later years and hearing her talk about her life and work in her modest way.

In the accompanying exhibition Inspired by: The leagacy of Anni Albers much of the work was interesting to see first hand from a technical point, it being work of artists that I’m familiar with from various articles but hadn’t seen ‘in the flesh’ before. I was, however, particularly intrigued by Fiona Mathison’s Sanctums.

There are elements of hand written text incorporated into the vertical structures of the installation along with various materials: threads, plastics, wrapped, bound, altered.

As you walk between the structures and the wall mounted mirrored tapestry boxes there is something of being inside one of those Klimt birch wood paintings.

More intrigue in the simple forms of Dorte Behn’s New Space 1 where woven planes intersect.

The third exhibition Elemental is beautifully layed out with 14 artists/makers’ work intermingling with one another. Of all the artists here Wycliffe Stutchbury made the biggest impression and not just because of his amazing name!

I found his work really stunning. It has something of the simplicity and respect for material that I love about Sue Lawty’s work. I could deffinitely live with a few of these adorning my walls.

>beachy printing

These were some of the things I collected at Runswick Bay. My previous beachcombing collections had been made up mostly of linear things, stuff I could potentially weave with. This time it was much more of a mixed bag.

Once things had been sorted through and laid out to dry off I could rub most of the sand off and divide things into groups. I took a mixture of items into college to develop silk screens from but rather than expose the screen from acetates with black and white images I arranged the items directly on the exposure unit and placed the coated screens over to see what would happen.

Some items left really distinct marks. Others, depending on their 3-dimensionalness and their opaqueness left more ambiguous marks or no mark at all. The whole excersise left sand on the exposure unit!

There is an interesting ambiguity to the shapes. Some that are made by plastics and scraps of synthetic textiles leave very organic-looking shapes, like sea weed. The limpet shells with holes in left eclipse like rings which fade as the shape blocked the light enevenly.

I printed the screens out mostly onto paper using left over pigments from other people’s printing.