Butterfly Collecting

I decided to develop the sketch of a butterfly collection in frames for my final prints. The first major decision was to divide the design in two halves. I did this mainly for reasons of scale, in order to enable more detail in the frames and insects. I wanted to produce linocuts using an A4 sized piece of lino placed within an A3 frame. My initial working drawings were drawn in pen, and coloured as I tested colour ideas on the side of the paper.

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It seems that the bast way to achieve these designs is by reduction linocut combined with chine colle. In the blue design, the collage will be used in the negative areas between the frames; and in the red design, selected butterfly wings will be collaged in blue. I wanted at least one of the designs to be in blues as one of the prominent species of butterfly in Dorset is the Chalkhill Blue. In the second print, I again wanted to suggest the Chalkhill blue with the collage, and the warmer palette was chosen to contrast with the first design. In my sketchbook I did more work on colour, and how to prepare the tissue paper for collage. I also did a small test linocut to see how much detail I could achieve in the design. I used a soldering iron to make the marks on the moth wings in the centre. The cutting tool is in the photo for scale. I have set myself a huge technical challenge for these prints!

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This is the blue print after the second print layer. You will notice that the image is reversed. I did this as I was already giving myself a lot to think about, and the design would work equally well in mirror form. I was initially very disappointed with the registration, but think I am being hard on myself. The problem was with a combination of a frayed and uneven lino edge, the decal of the paper and my decision to use a jig of mountboard L-shapes in one corner for the lino and paper. There was room for error in both the block and the paper. I am also having a few issues with ink. I’m not sure if it is the temperature in my studio, or the use of prussian blue, but the ink is rather stiff and giving patchier results. This is not helped by using Somerset Satin 300g rather than the lighter and smoother Japanese Simli papers I prefer for lino.

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These are separate proof prints of the 2nd and 3rd layers combined, and the 3rd layer on it’s own. I would like to print a few copies of the final layer either combined with a monoprint, or painted by hand.

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This is one of the prints with the final layer. Of all the version I printed, all of them were misregistered. This is the best of the bunch. Again, I was initially upset that it hadn’t turned out exactly as hoped, but the more I look at it I don’t mind this. The butterflies almost look like they are fluttering and about to take off. I have embraced the misregistering and made a few more prints with deliberate movement with some interesting results. I have left one print without the third layer.

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