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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Preliminary printing tests

The technique I had been using with great success to reproduce botanical specimens was proofing ineffective for rendering the shape and depth of these animals.

It was back to the drawing board to try to come up with a process that could represent the vibrancy and volume of marine creatures.

I tried a progression of stochastic dot experiments on more of the plates in an effort to print smooth, realistic images.

I was admiring the reproduction of specimens I found in Victorian era naturalist books.

CHROMOLITHOGRAPH: This is the process by which lithographs are color printed. As many lithographic stones, each with an identical image, were used as colors were needed, each stone carrying different colors on the replicated drawing. Often colors were overprinted to get different tones or colors (blue and yellow make green). While chromolithography was employed to save money over of costly hand-coloring, it was often a difficult process that required skilled “chromistes” who knew the art of color-mixing. Alignment or registration of the paper on each separate stone also required great skill so that the final printed image did not appear blurred. Sometimes as many as a dozen or more stones each bearing the same image drawn with a waxy crayon were colored and overprinted. The first large chromolithographs done in the U.S. were by Julius Bien, a German immigrant, for the sons of John James Audubon who published what is known as the Bien edition of the Birds of America 1858-60.

Ochre Sea Star printed on Thick kozo paper

Pacific Litlleneck clam shell, in this image I printed the yellow plate magenta and the magenta plate yellow. It was too red previously.

Giant Keyhole Limpet, found at Leo Carrillo State Park. This image was laking detail and was too contrasty.

Chestnut Cowrie with mantle exposed. I tried printing a solid shape first and dusting it with mica powder, then print the four colors over it. It looks amazing but the labor extensive process ruled out using it in edition printing.

Chestnut Cowrie. With this image I felt I was finally getting somewhere. It was rich and smooth with subtle tonal shifts and layering.

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