In Memoriam – the story of a print

How did I come to write for a printmaking magazine?

Pressing Matters is a wonderful, rather new printmaking magazine, that started in 2017. Their last article is always The Story Behind the Print, and while reading one earlier in the year, it occurred to me that I had a print with a story.  Why not offer an article for that position?  What a buzz to have my proposal accepted.  Not for the coveted Story Behind the Print, to be sure, but to be included in the magazine as a small Bits & Pieces article for the August 2019 issue was such an honour.

After the article and images has been posted off, and the text had been edited and finalised, there came the longish wait for the physical magazine to be delivered, and I could finally see what my print looked like in print.  The wait was reminiscent of an aspect of printmaking that is almost addictive – the reveal.

Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, the Reveal - that moment when the paper is first lifted off a newly printed plate.. The Reveal is a compelling, almost adictive feature of printmaking that draws me back, over and over again. It is that moment when the press has run over an inked plate for the first time – actually any time – and you pull back the blanket, and lift up the paper to see how it turned out – a moment of anticipation and tension.

The wait is perhaps not quite so stressful, but full of anticipation none the less.

So here are screen shots of the Images and article, as written by the editor from my material. (P.9, Pressing Matters Issue 8, 2019).  

I didn’t have this website published at the time, so the one listed below the article is for my profile page on the Peace of Green websitePeace of Green (or PoG as it is affectionately know to its members) is an artists collective in my nearest village, Maleny, Queensland, Australia.

Now for the full story – or How the print edition of In Memoriam Rien Hos 1916 – 2017 came to be made.

Rein Hos was my mother, who lived in Albany, Western Australia, until she died at 101 years in August 2017.  She was Oma to her grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Towards the end of the wake after her funeral, my daughter and son went for a drive, revisiting places they knew from childhood while staying with Oma.  In particular they stopped at one of her old addresses, now a vacant block, with the house demolished but some garden plants still left growing.

They wandered around for a bit, and my daughter picked some sprigs of lavender.  Which she left in the car.  I saw the lavender next morning, as we prepared to return home, and promptly claimed it. “I can print with that!”  Lavender is a lovely subject for collagraph printmaking, and this was no ordinary lavender.  It had come from what remained of one of Oma’s gardens.  Wrapped in damp tissue to help it keep, the lavender returned with me, all the way to Queensland (on the other side of Australia, about as far away as one can get from  Albany).

Back home, a few days later this special lavender was made into a collagraph printing plate, and over the next few months worked on to make it print-ready.  In all, 16 prints were pulled.  Usually I sell my collagraph printing plates (they wear out in printing), as well as the prints, but gradually the idea formed that this was one edition that I would never sell. The prints have a personal significance and I decided that I would only ever give them away.

Which I did. Different versions of this variable print edition were offered to Oma’s children and grandchildren, and then packaged up and posted to their various addresses, mostly in Western Australia.  The remaining prints can be given away as I see fit, and I am keeping three versions. The plate also stays with me, a memorial to my mother, Rien Hos.

Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, collagraph printing plate of "In Memoriam.""In Memoriam"  EV1/16, ©Jacky Lowry, Collagraph print on paper."In Memoriam"  EV2/16, ©Jacky Lowry, Collagraph print on paper.

 

"In Memoriam"  EV4/16, ©Jacky Lowry, Collagraph print on paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three versions came about because I kept changing my mind as to which I liked best – no coloured background, a lavender coloured background, or a paler version.  The little bit of colour you see in the plain one above is an artefact of being on the web.  It’s not in the original scan and I don’t know how to make it go away (yet).

And just a little thing to note in the images.  There is a wobble in the stems just under the flower heads. Lavender is a tough plant, but by the time I started the plate, the lavender had wilted a bit, and I couldn’t get the stems to stay straightened out.

Image details:   In Memoriam Rien Hos 1916 – 2017, ©  Jacky Lowry,
                            Collagraph printing plate; and collagraph prints no.s 1/16; 2/16; 4/16
Image size:       15.5 cm x 15.5 cm   
Paper  size:       26.5 cm x 29.5 cm
                           Not for sale

Printing a collagraph

COLLAGRAPH PRINTING IS A PROCESS

For the last couple of months I’ve been very focused on getting this website built, even more so than the downsizing project. (Read why we have to start downsizing here.)  But in between decisions about accumulated stuff,  I felt the need of an art break.

Later in the year Maleny Printmakers are will be holding their annual “Collectables” Exhibition, and this post outlines how I made a print for that.  (Find out about the Maleny Printmakers here – the header image is my studio, by the way.)

There are quite a few steps in getting a collagraph edition made.

Jacky Lowry's art and printmaking studio keeping cosy in winter.1. Have the fire on all day for a cosy atmosphere on a cold winter’s day. The fan circulates the heat from a little stove beautifully around the large studio.

Jacky Lowry artist and and printmaker collagraph printing plates.2. Chose a collagraph printing plate. I have many unprinted plates to choose from – some made while on mother-care duties in Albany, Western Australia, and others from around where I live. However, for this exhibition I need a small plate, and that limits my choices. Collectables prints are small, printed on 13.5cm x 11.5 cm paper, to fit into a CD case – hence “collectable”.

It so happens I have some really small plates. They were made for a miniature print competition (maximum area four square inches) that I never got around to entering. At the same time I made a few slightly larger ones as well.

Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, tiny collagraph printing plates.

 

Here they are laid out on bits of paper, so I can choose. They are dear little plates, so I will show you some of them.

             

 


Self-sown Hoop Pine Seedling  
                              Herb Robert (a cranebill)           Kangaroo Grass

Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, tiny collagraph printing plate of Hoop Pine.

Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, tiny collagraph printing plate of Herb Robert.Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, tiny collagraph printing plate of kangaroo grass seed heads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Bottlebrush Growth                                       Lantana Leaf                        

Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, tiny printing plate of fresh bottlebrush plant growth.Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, tiny collagraph printing plate of well-munched Lantana leaf.I finally decided on the larger Lantana Leaf. I love the lacy look caterpillars have left.

In Queensland Australia, Lantana is a pest species, and I rather enjoyed the idea that this pest has a pest of its own.

 

 

3. Next, cut or tear the paper to size – 13.5 cm x 11.5 cm. One of the advantages of a small paper size is that I can use up off cuts of printmaking paper. Soon I had a nice little pile of 12 pieces of paper, ready to prepare for printing.

Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, printmaking paper cut to size for printing tiny collagraph plate.Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, registration marks on the back of printmaking paper, to help with printing.

4. To help with the printing, I then make registration marks – a little pencil mark in the centre of the top and bottom edges of the back of the paper. These, with the help of a registration sheet, will let me print the plate in the centre of the paper every time.


Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker's registration sheet for printing tiny collagraph plate. 5. Here is the registration sheet.  The vertical line is in the centre, and the horizontal lines measure 1 cm intervals above the outline of the plate, centrally placed along the vertical line.

The inked plate is placed on the outline, and the paper is then laid on top of the plates. level with one of the horizontal lines, and with the registration marks on the central vertical.

That sounds more complex than it is.  See the pictures below.

 

Lantana plate, centrally placed in its outline, on the registration sheet.  Paper is placed over the inked plate, with registration marks aligned to the central vertical line.

Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, tiny Lantana collagraph printmaking plate centrally aligned on the registration sheet.Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, printmaking paper with registration marks centrally aligned on the registration sheet.

5. But there is more. I can’t just start printing with the marked pieces of paper yet. They must first be dampened to soften the paper fibres so that they will better bend over the shapes on the collagraph plate during the printing.
Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, printmaking paper being dampened by spraying with water.
I spray water over both sides of the paper, lay them on top of each other and cover with a towel.

Jacky Lowry artist and printmaker, water-sprayed printmaking paper sitting between dampened towel overnight.

  1. The wet paper sits between dampened towel overnight, so that the water spreads evenly throughout the paper, leaving it damp, not “wet”. When you see all the steps involved in making a collagraph print (and I didn’t even detail the plate making), you can see why it is that printmaking tends to appeal to people who like working with process.

 

Lantana Leaf 1, © Jacky Lowry, Hand coloured collagraph print.Lantana Leaf 1, © Jacky Lowry: the finished product, ready for display at the Maleny Printmakers Collectables 2019  Exhibition in November 2019. I’ll update you closer to the event.