Everybody has their own preferences as well as limitations due to spacial constraints, budget, and press size as to what their monotype printmaking studio should contain. Through the years I have moved from oil-based inks and solvents to Akua non-toxic water based inks. Originally I printed on dampened paper as that was how I was taught. But for the past 30 years or so I’ve been printing dry. I have also moved to thinner and thinner printing plates. These changes have dictated a number of the materials I currently use and will be demonstrating with.
In the best case scenario here are some things to consider along with links to suppliers:
- MONOTYPE WORK STATION
- PRINTING AREA
- PRINTMAKING PAPER
- MONOTYPE PRINTING PLATES
- CHINE COLLE’ AND ADHESIVES
- MISCELLANEOUS STUFF
MONOTYPE WORK STATION
You will need a palette for ink mixing. A ¼” thick glass is ideal but thick clear acrylic will work as well (minimum 18”x 24”- or larger), available through glass suppliers.
In a studio where hands-on instruction is offered you can provide smaller palettes to transport ink- Rather than carrying around large glass mixing palettes or disbursing jars of ink around the studio I like to provide a clear acrylic plate for each person. This is usually a strip (scrap) about 4”- 6” x about 16″ – 18″ and 1/16″ or thicker. I call these “master palettes” and participants will use them to transport dollops of ink from a central inking station to their individual work spaces.
A container of dish washing soap is your all around cleanup solvent for Akua (Dawn is recommended but most anything will work). Mix approximately one part to ten parts water. In my studio I use old plastic water bottles with screw on caps. Poke a hole in the cap and it will give you a refillable squeeze bottle.
Alcohol is primarily for press, plate and palette cleaning and also for various techniques- Isopropyl (91%) is best- There should be a separate container or refillable squeeze bottle for the press/printing station plus several for general studio use. I buy smaller containers for studio use and larger containers to refill them. Poke a hole in the cap of the smaller containers and be sure they are clearly labeled. These are available at CVS, Walgreens and in many grocery stores.
Q-tips or generic cotton swabs are very useful.
A black sharpie marker is used for marking the backs of plates for registration and mapping purposes.
Several cans or jars can be used for brush cleaning and for holding various tools as well as smaller cans or jars for ink modifiers. I use soup cans, tuna and cat food cans, yogurt cups, etc.
Good quality flexible metal ink knives are ideal but plastic spatulas are workable as well especially on a plastic palette or plate. These are available in hardware stores. Less costly metal spatulas are also available in hardware stores- make sure they’re flexible. The more ink knives in a printmaking studio the better.
A supply of soft brayers in various sizes 1”-6” are my most used mark making tools for monotype. And for more extravagant roll-outs try some thinner and/or larger rollers. Brayers and rollers are available through Takach Press.
A supply of paper towels is essential. In addition many folks like working with rags.
Water based brushes are necessary for Akua– a variety of sizes should be chosen to suit your working style.
Old telephone books are used for cleaning brayers, ink knives, brushes, etc.
Latex, nitrile or vinyl gloves should be used primarily to keep your hands clean while working with inks. Some people have reactions to certain gloves so use what works best for you. I prefer nitrile. I find these at hardware stores, CVS, and Walgreens.
You will need a supply of Akua Intaglio inks and modifiers. These are manufactured by Speedball Art in 2 oz and 8 oz tubs and available through Takach Press and from many art supply stores. There are nearly 30 different Akua Intaglio colors but you can be very successful with as few as 8 colors- the primaries (a red, a yellow and a blue), secondaries (a green, orange and a violet) plus a black and white. Of course you will have much more flexibility with a wider range and your choices are totally subjective. Here is a list of 15 inks I generally use for my own work:
- Titanium White
- Diarylide Yellow
- Yellow Ochre
- Pyrrole Orange
- Scarlet Red
- Crimson Red
- Quinacridone Magenta
- Red Oxide
- Vandyke Brown
- Carbazole Violet
- Prussian Blue Hue
- Phthalo Blue
- Oxide Green
- Burnt Sienna
- Carbon Black
- For the use of Veils add Opaque White
Here are the modifiers for use with Akua Intaglio inks:
- Blending Medium- to thin and reduce ink viscosity
- *Release Agent- for ghosts, tints, and to lift residual ink from the plate, very effective for hand printing- you will love this product.
- Transparent Base- to lessen opacity of ink without changing the viscosity
- Mag Mix- to stiffen ink, especially for Trace Monotype and Viscosity techniques
A small supply of Akua Liquid Pigments is great for brushwork, to add to *Release Agent to make tints and to add to Transparent Base to form new intaglio colors. Again this is totally subjective. These are the liquid pigments I use most:
- Yellow Ochre
- Red Oxide
- Phthalo Blue
- Phthalo Green Yellow
- Jet Black
*In my studio I have a dedicated area near the press for rolling out Release Agent along with liquid pigments to form tints. I keep an ink spatula, a phone book, alcohol and paper towels in this area. I also use a sturdy acrylic palette for roll outs and since it is acrylic it can easily be transported to work on a plate directly on the press.
Along with this you will need a registration grid to place beneath a clear acrylic sheet on top of the press bed. You can cut your own acrylic sheet available at Home Depot or Lowes. If you already own a press then you likely have a set of felts. For most dry printing applications with Akua inks on a press I’ve found that only one felt blanket is necessary- usually of medium thickness. Experiment.
A roll of blue painter’s tape is useful for securing the registration of smaller paper on the press or for any size paper on a hand printing station.
In your printing area there should be dedicated clean hands spaces where paper tearing and chine colle’ cutting and pasting take place. There should also be a clean space to lay out prints that immediately come off the press or hand printing station.
I’ve found the best prices for printmaking papers at Takach Paper.
When printing dry it’s best to use soft, smooth and absorbent paper. I have found the perfect option to be Arches 88. It is a bright white paper and comes in 2 sizes, 22”x 30” and 30″ x 42.” Several other smooth and/or colored papers are also good to have but this is optional. Here are some suitable papers:
- Arches 88
- BFK cream, tan, grey
- Pescia (Cartiera Magnani) pale blue, cream
- Revere Silk
- Arnhem 1618 (320gm)
- Rives lightweight cream (great for chine colle’)
- Hahnemuhle Copperplate
- Stonehenge- best of student grade papers (inexpensive)
Newsprint is widely used in a printmaking studio. It’s generally available in pads of various sizes, in sheets, or a roll. I get end rolls from our local newspaper printing facility.
In my paper prep area I have a large clean hands surface with two parallel measuring tapes secured to the top. Here I can line up my paper to one edge and put a tear bar across the paper lining it up with the same numbers on both measuring tapes to easily and accurately tear my paper. All of my different papers are stored in shelves beneath this surface for easy access. Near one press I also have a clean large white board attached to the wall. Here I can clip works in progress to view or work on as they come off the press. This panel is also used for photographing works.
MONOTYPE PRINTING PLATES
I use .030 thickness or 1/32” PETG for my monotype printing plates. These come in 4’ x 8’ sheets from plastic suppliers and cost about $35 each. They are very flexible, can be cut with a mat knife or scissors and do not crack like clear acrylic. Pre-cut PETG is available through Takach Press. I’ve moved more and more to thinner plates over the years and avoid using anything thicker than 1/16.”
It’s very important to have at least 2 plates the same size and in many cases having 4 or more same size plates to work on offers a great deal more flexibility. Here are some good sizes: 8×10, 9×12 (great for hand printing and to use with a quarter sheet of paper), 11×14, 12×16 (work well on half sheets of paper), 14×17, 16×20, 18x 24.
CHINE COLLE’ AND ADHESIVES
For Chine Colle’ it’s good to have a variety of items ready to go. Rice papers, old prints/drawings, photos, photocopied material, digital images, found materials are all great – this is totally open and subjective- Think thin and absorbent. Since we will be working on dry paper this limits the selection of adhesives. The following three adhesives are suitable for dry printing:
3M/ Scotch 568 Positionable Mounting Adhesive– This is a great product for use with chine colle’ and collage. It comes in 50 foot rolls of 11”, 16” and 24”. I find the 16” is most versatile.
3M Super 77 spray adhesive- This multi-purpose, high tack spray is toxic so a vented spray area is ideal, otherwise you can set up an area outside. Super 77 is available in most hardware stores and more expensive in your art supply stores.
Glue sticks for smaller chine colle are easy to use, inexpensive and readily available
I use recycled newspapers beneath my adhesive area.
A light box or table is an effective item to use with monotype. Draw a map with a sharpie on the back of the plate. Ink the front side and then lay the plate on the light unit to see your map more clearly through the ink. Now you can remove ink specific to the map.
A slop sink is always useful however most of the clean up procedure for palettes, plates and tools will occur at your work station using the soap mix and alcohol. In New Mexico we are very conscious about water usage. Consequently for monotype clean up I use the sink only for final brush cleaning and to wash my hands.
Miscellaneous rulers, straight edge/ tear bar and even a framing square are all very useful in any art studio.
A selection of drawing materials and personal mark making stuff are always good to have. You’ll also need cutting tools, a pencil sharpener, erasers, etc. and even some pieces of sandpaper can be very useful. Most water soluble crayons like Caran d’Ache Neocolor II and Stabilo Aquarelleable and Woody 3 in 1 pencils will transfer to dry paper through the press with the help of Release Agent. They are also great for final touch ups as is a good old set of colored pencils.
An apron with pockets for pencils, gloves, paper towels, etc. is essential.