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HOW TO CREATE A MONOTYPE
February 2009, Matt Frederick
 

Caran d'Ache

For my monotypes I use water-soluble Caran d'Ache crayons on acrylic plates. I generally work on a sanded plate but occasionally on a smooth plate. Its also important to make sure the edges of the plate are beveled and clean.

A nice description of Monotypes can be found on the Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monotype

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Acrylic plates

One clear and one sanded plate. If you have access to a sandblast chamber it gives a great tooth to the plate. If not, you can use sandpaper by hand or a rotary sander. I've used a rotary sander most recently and it gives a good tooth to the plate but is a bit irregular and you have to be sure that you don't get the plate too hot or it will start to melt.

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Reference

I use my own photos for reference. I open them up in Photoshop and flip the image so I'm working from a reversed source image.

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Sketch

On sanded plates I make a loose sketch with a soft graphite pencil (4B or 6B). I like to work loose, so the sketch is just a nice reference.

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Laying down color

Yeah, its a bit like coloring with Crayolas. :)

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More color

Its important not to lay down too much of the Caran d'Ache as sometimes it will start to lift the paper when it goes through the press.

You can use water to 'erase' the crayon or to move it around. The medium does tend to get muddy if you mix it too much.

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On a clear plate

Working on a clear plate is similar, just no tooth to grab the pigment.

You can also do this whole process with watercolor paint. The finished prints look very different and it takes some trial and error to figure it out but you can end up with some really nice prints. Sanded plates hold onto the watercolor better but unsanded ones can give you really nice washy effects.

Here is one of my old monotypes from college. It is a larger size print. Lots of loose watercolor on a smooth plate.

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Finished color

Here is the plate finished up. Probably could have added more color.

 

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Water added

I selectively worked some water into the image on the plate.

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Paper soaking

I'm printing on Rives BFK bright white. Its a really nice soft paper and works well with a wide range of printmaking mediums. I've printed successful monotypes with as short as a half-hour soak, but normally the paper has a good long soak.

I use this kind of ruler when I tear the sheets so they have a nice deckle edge.

I also use these self-closing tweezers and a piece of folded paper to handle paper when my hands have ink or other art medium on them.

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Press is ready

I have a Richeson Baby Press and it works great. For my combination of Rives BFK, press blankets and plate I set it at 13.7 for monotypes.

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Plate in place

There's a layer of newsprint under the plate and then one on top of the printmaking paper.

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Print pulled

Now its just a matter of running the plate through the press. I think its important to keep a nice consistent pace when cranking the press.

You can see in the background that there is still some medium left on the plate and you can normally get a second impression from the plate but it will be about half-strength at best.

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Drying rack

After the print is pulled it goes onto the drying rack.

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Other plate

And here is the print from the smooth plate.

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Cleanup

The plates just wash off. The sanded plates hold onto the medium a little bit and at some point it has to be re-sanded.

Oh, that's Mai Tai (my Bengal) supervising.

See the finished print from the sanded plate (pops)

See the finished print from the smooth plate (pops)

And a few links to enjoy:
The Printmaking Forum at WetCanvas
Flickr Printmaking Group
Flickr Baby Press Group

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