Saturday, July 7, 2018

Dragonflies, Beetles and Bugs - freeform printing to create Artists Books

Its amazing how much good stuff I have tucked away in drawers and boxes in my studio.

In the past in my art practice I have used solar techniques to create etching plates starting with metal plates with a photo emulsion layer.  I printed copyright free images from my computer onto overhead transparencies and then exposed them on the plate to UV light to create the etching plates.  The plates are expensive to buy and the process can be fraught with risks - a lot can go wrong - exposure timing, washout etc etc.
So recently I remembered how much work went into creating those plates, so I dug through my stash to see what I could find.  Insects!  One of my favourite themes at the moment.  It was meant to be!

I inked up the plates and did some random printing on some lovely toned Stonehenge paper, not worrying too much about accuracy and print perfection.  Even the ghost prints (printing without re-inking) looked effective, with strong prints as a contrast.

I then overprinted a coloured background using acrylic paints and my gelatine plate.  Not too strong, just wanted some colours and impressions of grasses.

The resulting prints have been turned into 2 small concertina books. The covers are made from leather look papers, I think the scaly pattern of the paper suits the insect theme.

The books were a lot of fun to create with no expectations or pre-conceived ideas.  And I'm happy with the result, so I hope you enjoy my photos below.  At the end of this post there's also a quick video I took of the dragonfly prints before I folded it into the book.

So whats in your stash that you could re-use or repurpose into another artwork????

The solar plates.  Between uses I smother them in vege oil and wrap
them in plastic so they don't dry out. 

The ' Beetles and Bugs' book

The 'Dragonflies over the Pond' Book


  1. I hadn't thought of overprinting etching with a gelli plate to get colour and texture. Now added to list of things to try

  2. This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing your process. What's in my stash that can repurposed? Too much to contemplate in this small space!