Thursday 22 October 2020

Printing with Polymer-Clay, A Study of Feasibility

Some weeks ago, Bill Ritchie, inventor of the Mini-Halfwood-Press asked me, how polymer-clay can be used as printing-plate.
An interesting idea, I thought. But in the web, I found nothin about. 
So I started a serial of trails.
(About,how to bake polymer clay, you can find lots of videos on "youtube".)

I used „Cernit Number One“-polymer clay.
As I can read on different online-publications, it is possible to mix different brands of clay, also to make harder clay smoother.
For conditioning the clay, a pasta-machine is perfect, but an acrylic-roller is fine, too. 
(More about, at youtube.)

Block-Printing & Embossing (with the Mini Halfwood-Press)
As "master" (form) I used a laser-engraved MDF, 3 mm, deepness about 0.75 mm.
As release agent, between wood and clay I used water from a spray-bottle.
The clay contents oil, this makes the used (offset-)ink more smoother, less sharp in printing.
Because of the uneven surface, also the inking of the clay-cliche was not so easy, and fare from perfect.
Messure in cm. Master, Polymer-Clay-Cliche
Embossing and Block-Print


Embossing, made from polymer-clay on damped paper, is no problem, it comes perfect.

"Pseudo"-Mezzotinto (printed with the Mini Halfwood-Press)
Then I tried a kind of mezzotinto: 
after pressing (with the Halfwood) a sandpaper (grain 100) on the fresh clay, I baked it. 
Then I used a scalpel (Xacto-Knife with a roundet blade) and scratched a form into the clay-
To smooth the surface partly. The smoothed parts takes less ink, becomes lighter.
Cold-Point Intaglio (printed with the Mini Halfwood-Press)
Into the 2nd. plate of clay, I scratched lines with drypoint-intaglio needles. It works, but the the surface was too raw.
So I smoothed the surface with sandpaper, up to 2000er grain. 
Still, there are darker spots on the print. At that parts the plate was a little bit deeper and I didn't sand it down perfect enough.

Cold-Point-Intaglio, Plate & Print

The Plate with engraved Lines.
It was a very interessting journey into the world of polymer.clay.
I've been really impressed by the "pseudo"-mezzotinto. 
This technic with a plate of polymer-clay, I'll use also in future, multi-color prints, of course ;-)

If you like to test "printing with polymer-clay", please drop a line.

Thank you & stay healthy

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