Thursday, August 12, 2021

Tetrapak Mark Making and Printing Tests


Tetrapak mark making tools test
I always have to make a book and take a photo. Even the funky tests. Single sheet binding, instructions from Keith Smith.

I have been testing a lot of mark making tools on Tetrapak. Above is a little book I made myself. Below are all the tests. Most of the tools I used are in the photos. The paper is Stonehenge, ink is Akua carbon black. Not all the tests printed equally well, but it's information, not beauty that I'm looking for.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Fine line applicator with Golden high flow paint. Hard to control, hard to write backwards. Take a while to dry thouroughly.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
PVA sprayed on with toothbrush, keep it light for a texture. Lots of small spots end up making a dark area.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Liquitex clear gesso, center is the tetrapak, right is Blick white acrylic, brushed on and scribbled with brush handle end. I need to play more with the brush handle marks.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Utrecht mat medium sprayed on with spray tool. Keep it light to get spots, more spots will hold more ink. Hard to control but I love the bigger spots.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Left dark area is an etching tool that scratches many fine lines, the grids are pieces of screening. I couldn't find most of them - the heavy plastic one above was used, also the wire. it's twisted very fine wire. These are embossed into the tetrapak.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Staples under aluminum tape on the left and above right, hammered staples on the right.
 If you try this be careful - you don't want to make permanent marks on your rollers. Extra padding is a good idea.
Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Aluminum tape, torn for the two horizontal pieces, crumpled for vertical piece. The long horizontal line is a fold in the tetrapak.
Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Above: screwdriver blade, Below square tubing. Press down hard.
 The screwdriver blade is notched.
Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Left: sand paper scratches, right Wiggle Jiggle writer with scribe taped on.
 It's a kid's fun drawing tool. On Amazon.
Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Marbling comb. On the left I tried brushing on some mat medium. I want to use these in collage. Turns out the Akua dries slowly, but is finally supposed to be waterproof.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Left some kind of etching tool - makes many very fine lines. Center: fork, Right: nail set, although maybe not the one in the photo. I think it had a larger circle end.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Wheels with spikes. For leather working and sewing. These are hard to ink well. A very soft toothbrush seems best.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Papermate ballpoint pen, wheel with spikes.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Energel 0.5 pen

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Left: twisted scribe, right: scalpel

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Circle test: Left twisted scribe. The five is cut out. Right: nut cracker pick. Easier to draw a circle. I am having trouble adjusting to the different feeling between a pen and the scribes which are very sharp and only really work when I pull them toward me.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Left: Jetstream pen .23, nut pick, Right Cork handled scribe. Just as sharp as the twisted scribe but easier on the hand.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Uni Jetstream pen .28, Uni Jetstream 3, .38, Pentel energel .5, Papermate 1. They all look about the same when printed. I was hoping for a finer line from the finer tips.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Top: wire tool with handle, Bottom: cork handled scribe, trying light and firm pressures.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Polymer clay tool with embedded nails. I made this one years ago.

Tetrapak mark making test 2021 Judith Hoffman
Polymer clay tool, point on one end, circle on the other. The circle is like a nail set tool. The point is fairly smooth. I need to test this more.

Protecting the ink from cats
My system to leave the ink on the glass plate. We have a cat, he mostly doesn't walk on the table but he might. I should put a weight on top. They claim the Akua ink doesn't dry on non-porous surfaces, so it can sit out until you use it up.

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

My tetrapak baby doll

tetrapak print of doll by Judith Hoffman
Tetrapak print of old baby doll.

 Above is an experiment with printing a Tetrapak plate on a pasta maker. I used an etching tool to scratch lines and a scalpel to cut away the black areas to peel off the aluminum layer. You can see the folds in the packaging. On the right is the original and on the left is the ghost print. Mostly I use mulberry paper for the ghost. They will go into my pile of potential collage papers. 

Text written on tetrapak and printed comes out backwards.
Writing overlapping text on a piece of tetrapak with a fine ballpoint pen. When printed the text is backwards, making a nice texture or the suggestion of asemic writing. This will be used in a collage.
As part of my Tetrapak experimenting, I have been searching the internet for examples and information. There is a lot of information online, but I can't find a single video or blog post that shows making a Tetrapak plate and then printing it with a pasta machine. My searches were "tetrapak printing," "pasta machine printing" and "tetrapak pasta maker." 

There are many approaches to this technique. In the videos you will see many different papers and methods for inking and wiping the plate. You will need to experiment. 

Here's what I know so far: I have tried several papers and personally find that Stonehenge and the lighter BFK work nicely. The heavier BFK is probably good too. For very light papers I have liked Mulberry and Kitikata, especially for ghost prints. The paper is usually soaked in water so it must be strong when wet. To apply ink I am having the most success with a super soft toothbrush. If it makes scratches on your plate it's too stiff. For inks I have used Speedball and Akua. The Speedball was not good, the Akua is wonderful. To wipe the plate I like Akua wiping cloth. Be careful to not remove too much ink. To do the final wiping of the plate I prefer a piece of phone book, or newsprint. Something smooth and soft. I lay the paper on flat and rub gently. I tend to be heavy handed so need to be careful with the final wiping. This may not make sense now if you are just beginning. Watch some videos and do some experiments, then come back.

I put a piece of cheap drawing paper under my tetrapak plate when printing to get a print of the inky backside of the plate. It often makes an interesting print in itself and would be good for collage. I could also use a piece of mulberry paper.

Here are a few pages and videos that may be helpful: 

Blog post showing drawing on Tetrapak, inking, wiping the plate. Lots of photos. printing not shown. 

Video showing making Tetrapak print - cutting away silver layer to make dark area, hatching, correcting the image and then making another print. 

Blog post showing some Tetrapak prints. Linda Germain experiments a lot with alternative printing, worth a look around if you are curious. I especially like the print with the two big stone shapes and the smaller stone and fold between. Very zen.

This page has several videos, the most useful is the one on adapting a pasta machine to print longer or stiff plates. She removes the bottom of the pasta maker and turns it on it's side so the plate and print can go straight through. Not all pasta makers can be taken apart this easily but it's handy if they can.
My pasta maker with bottom plate removed, turned on it's side and used to print. The books hold the plate as it goes through the press from right to left.

Above is my pasta machine, adapted for printing. It's an old Pasta Queen, model 150. I got it on eBay years ago and used it for polymer clay for awhile. Polymer clay artists feel the Italian pasta makers are stronger. The books on the left hold the plate as it passes through the rollers. The two vertical bars in front are the clamp and the handle. The "base" is on the left now that it is laid on its side. I keep it set on the largest opening and adjust pressure with layers of chip board, newsprint, mat board or whatever. The pressure should be firm but you don't want to strain the pasta machine. I believe they all have plastic gears. I can make a 5.25 inch wide image. Length is pretty much unlimited with the pasta maker on its side.

If you are interested in a slightly larger but relatively inexpensive press, check out this video. Sally Hirst uses two craft presses to make prints
I just purchased this discontinued press on Amazon at a good price. I haven't tried it out yet though. Maybe in the next week or so. I had to purchase some felt blankets for it. It comes with a bed that is narrower than the opening, but you can make a bed from thin plywood or maybe even mat board. The rollers are adjustable which is useful. 

Stephen Fowler on Instagram is doing interesting Tetrapak matrixes (the plate).

Grabado Verde is a website in Spanish with lots of information. I used a translator but there are lots of photos to help make things clear.

Isabelle Biquet has some nice Tetrapak prints in her Pinterest album. Scroll down a bit. Look for "gravures por tetrapak." 

There is a private group on Facebook called Craft Press printmakers. They focus on printing with the embossing presses, Sizzix and the Xcut Press or similar. So not the pasta maker. It's a very nice group of people.

There are also some classes online if you want to dive in. I took a very basic class with Betinna Pauly at the Jaffe Center for the Book Arts, but it's not offered again. And then a more advanced, longer class with Sally Hirst. This one is on-demand. It's a basic level class, I do recommend it.

If you experiment with low-tech printing, I'd love to hear about it. 

I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer, or winter, depending on your hemisphere. I love both, they both have their charms.