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.


eileen2000 said...

I've been saving up more paks. Hoping to see you demo it sometime in the near future!

Judith Hoffman said...

Absolutely! I will demo it next time you are over. I really appreciate your saving your tetrapaks for me, but don't save the beef broth ones. The odor doesn't seem to wash off. I put them in a separate stack, incase I get desperate, but right now I'm not using them very fast.