Thursday, July 08, 2021

My pasta machine can do that?


pasta machine prints Judith Hoffman
My first pasta machine prints

Above are the prints I made during the class I took from Bettina Pauly with the Jaffe Center for the Book Arts. (All images enlarge) This was a good introductory class. I was able to get familiar with all the basics and gain some confidence. I really thought I would hate printmaking, but I like any low tech approach so I gave it a try. The image on the upper left was done with a milk carton, the others are all tetrapak prints. The print on the lower right was done during the last class, I was doodling on a piece of Tetrapak. You can see the folds and a hole for the spout.

The Tetrapak is a carton made with layers of cardboard, thin foil and plastic. I get my soy milk in one. You might also have juice cartons or broth in one. They all say "Tetrapak" on the bottom. Ordinary milk cartons also work. I think you can only get five to ten prints from these flimsy cartons. Some people use Akua plates which are a fairly thin plastic, they might yield up to 20 prints.

texture tests from pasta machine printing Judith Hoffman
These are texture tests on Tetrapak.

I am so excited about the pasta machine printing I decided to sign up for another class. This one is from Sally Hirst. It's a self-paced class. Above are texture tests, made by painting various mediums and white acrylic paint on the Tetrapak. Coarse mediums hold ink and print dark, the white paint (any acrylic paint) dries glossy and repels the ink, so print white. 

Splattered textures for pasta machine printing
Two of my favorite textures made by splattering PVA and mat medium. 

These textures were made by splattering PVA and mat medium with a toothbrush and a spattering tool from Dick Blick. I can't find it at their website. It's number six in the second photo on my mark making blog post. The splattering tool was used for the top test, it made bigger splats which show better. But the smaller spray is a nice grey tone.

Pasta machine on it's side for printing
To make things easier, I took the base off my pasta machine and laid it on it's side. then clamped it to the table. The books make a horizontal bed to support the materials as they go through. 

Pasta machine with improvised bed for printing
Here's the pasta machine with the plate and whatever that part is that's underneath - a sheet of 22 gauge brass. Anything stiff but thin would work.

To make a pasta machine print you sandwich together chip board, scrap paper, your plate and paper and felt. It has to bend a little to come out of the bottom of the pasta maker. To make things easier, I took the base off my pasta machine and laid it on it's side. then clamped it to the table. The books make a horizontal bed to support the materials as they go through. There are videos online to do this, but I can't find them right now. Not all pasta machines can be easily taken apart. Mine had four screws in the bottom, taking those out released the base. This lets me use a stiffer plate to print and makes it easier to feed things through. I can also print long things easily. I am still limited to a fairly narrow opening - around 5 1/4 inches wide. My set-up from the bottom up is: 22 gauge brass. a sheet of chip board, a piece of newsprint, the plate (usually a piece of tetrapak), A piece of damp Stonehenge printmaking paper, another piece of newsprint, two pieces of wool felt. I have tried mulberry paper and Kitikata. Thinner papers of course need more newsprint layers. The newsprint protects the felt and chip board from getting inky. Actually the lower piece gets interesting ink marks on it (you can see them in the photo above), I may switch to slightly nicer paper for that so I can use it for collage.

mucky bottom after pasta machine print
The back of two tetrapak plates and their impressions on scrap paper. The box creases and the label printed nicely

Some people print with a Sizzix Big Shot Plus or an Xcut Xpress die cutting machines. I am seriously thinking I may get a Sizzix. Apparently the Xcut machines are hard to find. The advantage would be a wider bed and a taller space to put the plate through. 

Summer is half over here and I keep meaning to set up a table outside to make paste papers. There are so many things I would like to do. I need a schedule with deadlines. I hope you are all well, some people here are not wearing masks, but I am still masking up indoors with strangers.