Bush Baby

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Bush Baby, 2016.
Cyanotype on teabags, linocut and collagraph embossing on Fabriano Rosaspina paper.
35.5 cms x 24 cms

Bush Baby is also a new work for The Nature of Printmaking exhibition at the Arts and Ecology Centre, Maroochy Bushland Botanical Gardens at Tanawha from 6th-15th January, 2017. It is very much a mixed media work, but in printmaking tradition I plan to do an edition of 3. This one is 1/3 – and I have also done a 2nd one. The work started with an idea to use cyanotype to print lace onto the skirt frills – however, when the exhibition came up I changed my ideas to fit more with the natural environment. I wanted a work that would connect with the nurturing aspect of the gardens and also remind us that we needed to look after the environment as we would a child.

I also needed a plan and it eventually formulated to:

  1. Sew the teabags into three long strips, and then use smallish leaves and ferns to create the cyanotype image. Handstitch two rows of running stitch to use to gather the frills – there was definitely a dressmaking element in this one.

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2. I knew I needed to print the linocut before the embossing and certainly the frills – otherwise both might flatten in the press. My almost forgotten draftsmanship skills rose from the mists of the past – I drew the dress on tracing paper, then a flower pattern on half the bodice. A newer skill meant I could scan and reverse the image in Photoshop, then print out and trace it onto the other side of the bodice. The scallops along the hemline used an old dressmakers trick of folding paper in equal divisions and drawing in the scallops – something I had learnt as a child from my mother.

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3. I transferred the pattern to Silk Cut lino. It was a bit fiddly to cut. Gamblin inks and a press were used to print the dress on Fabriano Rosaspina paper. This smooth paper is a favourite of mine for linoprints, and I knew it would also be suitable for embossing.

4. A fairly large (for me, anyway) collograph plate was made for the embossing. The leaves were arranged to fit around the little dress, and glued (reluctantly) with Aquadhere onto to some ‘box board’. Eucalyptus leaves tend to be stiff, and the oils also go against adhering to the paper. The plate was shellacked on both sides once it dried and was also left for a week to dry. Dampened paper and the press were used for the embossing. I wasn’t too sure what would happen to the linocut ink, but being dampened didn’t effect it at all. I had left the oil based ink to dry for at least a week and that may have helped. I don’t think the process would have worked with water based ink.

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5. All that was left now was to attach the frills. I put this off for a few days while contemplating sewing them on, but found that a glue stick glued the frills to the paper easily.

I had foreseen a lot of problems with the piece. It had been a time consuming process, but apart from printing one embossing plate upside down, everything worked as it should and I am pleased with the result and looking forward to seeing my work on exhibition.

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