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Collagraphs Part 2: Printing the plates

The first print of the palace was rather disappointing. I had spent nearly 45 minutes inking up the plate - using black intaglio ink and a range of lighter colours for the palace and sky. My limited experience with printing shone through - in areas with large blocks of colour, areas were patchy or stripy.

While I thought I'd 'ruined' it, Jazmina advised that I ghost print over it to help blend the colours together. This worked quite well, although I did not use it for my final project.

With a bit more practice and patience, I got into the swing of printing and was mostly happy with the results. The trees in the background of my forest are stripy, but I'm working on resolving this. I was slightly disappointed with how dull my foreground trees turned out, and later realised that adding black to my colour mix was the reason for this (something I'll certainly be more cautious of next time).

At the same time, I was beginning to print the pieces of my pop-up.

After many hours turned to weeks of printing - both the front (collagraph) and back (monoprint) - I was ready to cut and fold. I approached this with the anticipation that I could easily make a mistake - particularly with how much of each section I folded and cut away, so I went forth with extreme caution! The results were quite pleasing, despite not being perfect in every manner of speaking.

Step one: unwind the thread and open the doors on either side.

Step two: unwind the thread from the star above and pull down the drawbridge.

Step three: open the 'glass' doors guarded by black knights and wind the gold thread around the stars to either side of the towers. Here's the view from below...

The final steps in my project involved monoprinting the forest (requiring tracing and cutting out stencils of all the forms in the image) and then gluing and stitching pieces of the palace together.

The monoprinting turned out to be a bit brighter than I had hoped, but I am nevertheless happy with the result (as I could have accidentally printed over the animals or misregistered). Because the paper stretched after soaking in the bath, the stencils were not precisely to scale for this step. I have touched up the white gaps with acrylic paint, just to merge the images into the background. The pale areas add a hint of moon-glow to the trees and animals, but some areas were a bit too white so I did my best to resolve this.

The final artworks evolved into something rather different in the end. Rather than gluing the pop-up to the middle of the forest (and after receiving some sage advice from Jazmina), I allowed it to stand on its own as a separate artwork, as adding it to the forest would overcrowd and detract from the pop-up. I also decided to transform it into a stand-alone piece, one that could either be mounted on a wall or rested on a flat surface, like an open book (although even this may require a separate stand to securely prop it upright). I printed a set of doors for both the front and the back of the pop-up and sewed little stars for the doors and the drawbridge, so that when they are opened, they can be securely opened and when closed, securely closed. This is achieved by winding gold embroidery thread around the gold stars to fasten doors together and hold them apart.

The final installation:

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