First off, I completed the second of the ‘framed butterflies’ prints, with chine colle butterfly leaves. Looking back at the blue print, I have decided to present the image with just two layers rather than three as the registration really was too far off. Partly for this reason, and partly because I loved how vibrant this picture was after the second layer, I have decided to do the same for this print. Some of the marks on the picture frames here were made with a soldering iron, and I think it has worked really well. If I were to rework it, I would make the clearing cuts on the large frame all in the same direction so as not to detract from the butterflies. The collage pieces didn’t quite match up with the cut marks, but I didn’t think that this mattered in the subject context.
Overall, given the technical difficulty of the prints, I was really happy with the final prints, and I feel that the design is strong. I was pleased that I have also been able to demonstrate a variety of cutting marks and use of the soldering iron.
Across the four prints, I wanted to demonstrate a narrative of butterfly collecting, so decided to use the other two prints to firstly portray the insects in among meadow flowers, as I usually enjoy seeing them; and secondly caught in a jar before mounting. I made a quick cut using a softcut alternative to lino in order to try out a design idea, and experimented with chine colle. I had done some preliminary work in my sketchbook on the best material to use for the collage, and ended up working with the same as for the print above. I also thought this helped keeping the four prints loosely together.
I printed quite a few versions of these test prints, altering the shape of the chine colle pieces, but somehow I felt it wasn’t really working as I had hoped. I thought back to a page of overlapping butterflies in my sketchbook, and placed butterfly silhouettes on the plate in offset positions, overlapping the printed ones. I originally used solid silhouettes, then repeated the exercise with crudely cut lacy versions. This was much more appealling, and I felt it interesting enough to incorporate into the final work.
I made a few composition sketches of how this idea could sit within a monoprint of a meadow. I made a few test monoprints, starting with a number of different flowers and the grasses painted. This was simpliflied to the most consistently successful marks only, which depicted poppies. The grass also looked really messy, and was replaced by collage wide strips of handmade green tissue paper. The collaged butterflies in blue also became confluent, and I cut these from a single sheet of tissue paper with a scalpel. I’m not sure if this can still be considered as chine colle, but I have also used monoprint in the final piece.
Next, I worked on how the linocut butterflies would look, a made one with all cut marks, and one with a large proportion of marks made with a pyrography tool. The entire lower half of the wings on the red butterfly were marked in this way with a mixture of different toolheads. This was my favorite of the two, and I felt the veiny marks were particularly successful.
I made a cut of three butterflies to use on the final print, and tried to leave some clearing marks around the insects inked to convey movement. I planned the exact composition before cutting by printing individual butterflies onto tracing paper laid over the cut shapes.
For the last print of butterflies in a jar, I decided to combine a lino print of a jar with a monoprint of the butterflies. I thought that this would help to portray the hard solid glass jar with the delicate flitting insects within. I thought that backdrawing would be the most appropriate way of doing this, as the lines needed to be strong in order to sit harmoniously with the linocut print. I had considered using partially sheer chine colle over the monoprint to mimic light catching the jar, partially obscuring the contents, but decided that this was not necessary. I had two attempts at cutting the jar, using a sketch in my sketchbook of a Kilner jar as a reference. I also practiced the backdrawing using various colours in a rainbow rolled fashion. I initially used contrasting colours, and then worked with various shades of blue. I thought that this worked well in creating the illusion of light and shade on the jar. I played with different thicknesses of ink on the plate until I arrived at the optimum shading on the print.
Of all four prints, this was the simplest in terms of execution, but I think the end result is strong. I am happy that the characteristics of the subject have been portrayed in the way I intended in my selection of printing technique, marks and tones.