Printmaking has always been an important part of my artistic life, and after a break of a couple of years, I am printing again. I started without a particular plan in mind, except that I probably wouldn’t be aiming for making editions that would be framed and hung on a wall, but something more three-dimensional and one-off.
The initial plate was a drypoint, which is made by scratching marks on an acrylic sheet, then inked up and printed on a press. It is not easy to control the marks, so my intention was for fairly random, irregular marks. The inspiration came from a black and white printout of a photo I took of lichen on rocks.
The plate was overprinted twice on both sides of a sheet of heavy printmaking paper, using earthy colours, turning the plate around each time to intensify and layer the marks. I prepared another plate with an image inspired by a seed head from a flax plant, used that for overprinting, and incorporated more small images from etching plates I had made some time ago. In the end I had several sheets of printed paper, so the next stage was to work out how to use them.
After trimming down the first piece, I cut it in half horizontally then joined it with an off cut to make a long narrow strip. Once the glue was dry, I folded it to an 8 page concertina, and started cutting. There were numerous possible approaches I had in mind for the next step, but was open to taking unexpected paths that came to me as I worked. Strips were cut and wrapped around a pencil to form a curl, more windows were cut and filled with other print images, attached in a range of different ways. I decided I didn’t want to glue anything as it was too final, so all the loose pieces were held in place by strips inserted into slots or notches, decisions forced by the way that each piece fell. I tried to vary and echo imagery within the resultant windows. The small pieces tucked in the windows reminded me of letters, so I decided to call the book ‘Lichen Letters’.
Below are more views of the completed piece.
Each page is 9 x 12 cm, so the book when flattened out is 72 x 12 cm