Printmaking with Jess Morgan

To celebrate the beginning of March (with perhaps even some warmer weather on the horizon…), rising folk star Jess Morgan shares with us some tips for easy DIY printmaking. So hit play on the Soundcloud player below to have a listen to Jess’s music as she teaches you a seriously nifty new craft skill. Over to you, Jess…

If you’re not already in the habit of allowing yourself a bit of a foodie splurge now and again, then please forgive me for this. You don’t have to be a serious artist to give this a go, in fact, the great thing about print-making is that you can produce great looking images with really only a few marks and a few simple techniques. So here’s one more reason to let the ditch the diet for just one night, load up on grease and carbs folks because after all… calories don’t count if you’re being creative!

First things first – you’ll need to get hold of a sheet of foam to be your first tile. This can be any size. You could cut out the middle of a foam picnic plate, the top and bottom squares of a take-away burger box or as I did, use the foam disk that comes underneath a frozen pizza. You will need to eat the pizza first of course.

Then you’ll need something to draw your picture and make your marks with – a biro or a sharp-ish (but not totally sharp) pencil will do. You can use printing ink or acrylic paint in just about any colour you like and you need to get hold of some sort of a roller to apply the colour – I’ve used an ink roller but have had great results in the past with a cheap and cheerful sponge roller. If all else fails a humble sponge brush will do the trick.

Use your biro or pencil (or any tools you can adapt) to press down a design onto your foam. I’ve had fun with simple abstract patterns as well as drawings of things and people.

If you manage to collect up enough foam you could also try making multiple tiles to make a panel print or a comic strip.

Now you’re ready to ink-up. Different types of foam will soak up different amounts of ink – so will need more inking than others in order to get a strong bold print. Practise with different amounts on some scrap paper.

Acrylic paint won’t give you as bold a print as printing ink (such as Speedball) but it’ll be easy to touch up in photoshop!

When the tile is covered in ink or paint simply turn it butter-side-down and press it onto your paper. Ordinary printer paper is fine but you can have even better results with very thin paper or newsprint if you can get it. Give it a good press and try not to wiggle the tile as this may skew the image. Then just peel the tile away from the paper carefully. If you do opt for thinner paper you may be best to print paper over instead of tile over paper.

I made a very simple set of 4 images – its meant to be a baby sneezing! Its not too bad for a first draft but I might need to eat another pizza and have another go before it goes on my fridge.

If you really enjoy this kind of print-making you might choose to get yourself a few tools and have a crack at a lino cut or a wood cut. This is how I’ve made all my album covers and bits of merchandise so far.

Happy printing!

Find out more about Jess Morgan on her own website here.

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