Silk papers: painted, printed and layered

Continueing with thoughts about Imagined Landscapes I have been making a series of small, experimental silk paper samples experimenting with various weights of silk papers, painting and printing onto the surfaces. The print is taken from a small, laser etched wood block (20cms square) and handprinted with a Japanese baren.layer-1-sample-1

To make the top layer I wanted to experiment with silk cocoon strippings combined with silk waste from the spinning process to create a wispy, delicate and ultra lightweight  surface with varying degrees of transparency and open spaces. I was interested in how the print would react to this mixture of opaque and semi trasnparent areas, and how the gaps in the surface would interrupt the flow of the image.

I wasn’t sure whether this surface would take to being block printed without falling apart.  A fine balance between damping the surface so that the printing inks would take and the surface disingrating involved several test prints and some sideways thinking. Eventually I found using a damped sheet of paper on top of the surface to be printed worked well.

The images below show how I arrived at the finished sample which by accident took on a look of rock strata.  The previous week I had been in southern Portugal taking copious amounts of photos of rather beautifully coloured cliffs and rocks which I think will be great for inspiration.


As a postscript I love the contrast of the shadows in the background with the pale colours. For me the sampling process always seems to reveal another potential direction to explore.  One of the things I love about living here in Portugal is the quality of the light.  Today the clear blue sky and the low autumn sun, which is still really strong here brought out the best in the pale coloured buildings of Coimbra and the interplay of crisp shadows.


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