Printmaking – masks and stencils


Part of the pleasure of printmaking is the reveal – after the plate with paper on top has passed through the press and you gently peel the paper back, what do you see? With a conventional plate, where a carefully considered image has been made on the plate you hope to see a clear rendition of what you have put down appearing as a mirror image of the plate. With works such as the ones I have been doing recently it is much more a mystery.

The four images above were made by rolling ink fairly randomly – there was some planning involved – onto an acrylic sheet, then strips and small rectangles of plasticised paper were laid across the plate to make a satisfying arrangement. Next, dampened pieces of printmaking paper smaller than the acrylic sheet were placed on the sheet and the whole lot was put through the press, thus making bleed prints, where the ink goes beyond the edge of the paper.

Some of the strips had been used before, so had ink on them which also transferred to the paper, as well as masking out the ink below – hence both stencils and masks. The pressure of the press and the dampness of the paper also caused some of the ink to squish out below the masking strips, creating areas of different depth of colour. The top left panel is a ghost print, that is, a print made by putting the plate through the press a second time without re-inking, so just a light residue is transferred to the paper.

All of these were then printed on the back, to make double-sided images, as shown below.


Probably they will ultimately be turned into a book or 3D object, so some of both sides will be seen. That’s for a future post!


Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

10 thoughts

  1. These are lovely and I find that I like the ghost print and the prints on the back best of all. The subtle colours make me think of shapes through fog or mist (which, as you know, I am attracted to). The shapes are like some sort of engineered structures – steel girders on the bridges of New York. So these really are constructions, both in shapes and colours.

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    1. There is something about ghost prints that is really appealing – they have the layers and texture of the initial print, but with an air of delicacy, and often different textures emerge – I agree with you, I like the sense of enigmatic shapes in the mist. I love the thought of these being constructions, like mighty buildings!

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  2. These are great and I am jealous that I don’t have a printmaking press too. I remember loving printmaking from when I was in school. I have made some monoprints without using a press this past year and got some interesting results.

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