I experimented with various papers and glues in combination with my elephant linocut. For the glue, I tried using diluted PVA painted on glass thinly and transferred onto the pieces before applying to the lino. I found this made the paper rather wet and fragile to handle. Nori rice paste with a little water used in a similar fashion was more successful as it was less wet. I also experimented with display mount spray glue and Pritt stick. The spray tended to dry quickly as I was preparing the plate, and gave less evenly distributed glue on small pieces than the other glues. Pritt stick was the easiest to use as it could be dabbed on thinly and stayed sticky throughout the process. With all techniques I found that it was necessary to use tweezers to handle the papers, and they tended to curl as they were glued and transferred. It was tricky getting the piece to glue completely flatly in areas of negative space in the relief print. I think I swore quite a bit during this project, and at times thought that it would be easier to prepare the ground with collage pieces , and print once the pieces were glued in place. The problem would however be in the registration which would likely be tricky.
These are the two most successful prints in the series. The first is using gold coloured tissue paper on Somerset Satin, and the second is torn pieces of handmade rag papers with pieces of gold leaf in them onto Rives paper. I initially tried using collage in a more precise way to pick out various areas of the print, but the results were disappointing. In particular the marks in the fabric on the elephants back were lost if a dark tone was used beneath them. There are problem areas in the bottom print where the torn edges of the chine colle were tricky to print on without patchy results. Despite this, due to the textural nature of the handmade paper and gold pieces, I think the overall print is successful. I also like the burnt sienna ink with the colour of the Rives paper and the gold pieces.
Next I experimented more with varieties of papers to collage into the print including candy wrappers, foil, newsprint, sheet music, tissue and gold metallic leaf. The metal leaf was a nightmare to use as it tended to fall apart on handling after it was glued. If I did manage to get it onto the inked plate, it tended to stick more efficiently to the ink than to the paper, leaving unprinted blank patches on the print and a messy block to clean up. I tried to combat this by first gluing the leaf to red tissue paper and allowing it to dry, but this did not stop a similar thing from occuring again as the metal adhered to the ink.
There is a balance to be struck between how patterned the collaged pieces are compared to the detail of the print, and I am not sure if in some examples below the background is too prominent and distracting. It may be worth exploring knocking back the details as I would do in my sketch book by washing the papers with a thin white acrylic before using them. The thickness of the paper is also very important as there can be a slight halo effect around the colle pieces. For the prints incorporating candy wrappers and foil, I spent a long time experimenting with various colour combinations, and was influenced a fair amount by Matisse and his ‘Snail’ cut-out. His work has been on my mind as his exhibition at the Tate Modern is on this spring.