The fine folks at Takach press gave me a good tip: when cleaning Akua Waterbased Inks from plates, hands or work surfaces, straight Dawn dish soap (no water) works fast. I used more than I needed here to illustrate the point, but a dime sized dollop and a scrub brush or old rag works great to clean all the ink from the polyester screen on my plate.
On the press bed, with a soaked & blotted piece of BFK Rives paper, ready to print.
Using white acrylic paint, blended with either acrylic gel (for thicker application) or acrylic medium (for thinner application), I painted this little interior and let it dry completely.
The photo above shows a new batch of silk aquatint plates under way. The plates are either scrap mat board or plexiglass, coated first with a thin layer on all sides & edges with Acrylic Gel. This step shows polyester cut about an inch larger than each plate, and laid on the surface. Using a foam applicator brush, I spread a layer of black acrylic paint, thinned 1/5 with water on each square of polyester so it would adhere to the plate with no air bubbles or wrinkles. I let these dry over night, and trimmed the excess fabric the next morning. For step by step instructions, visit the Akua web site, and/or see the description below.
To prepare a silk aquatint plate, you will need a substrate or backing board, some black and some white acrylic paint and fabric. Caraccio prefers to use high impact polystyrene because it comes in large sheets, has the thickness of a zinc plate and cuts easily, even curved shapes with just a mat knife. Other choices are Plexiglas, rigid wood or metal. Avoid cardboard as it is too soft and absorbent. For black paint, use any kind, even inexpensive house paint as long as it is acrylic. The acrylic white paint should be artist’s quality. Acrylic medium or gel are needed too, but do not use gesso or modeling paste as they both have a sandy texture. For a brush to make the plate, use a sponge brush if possible. For the image making, some artists use trowels, spatulas and squeegees as well as painting brushes. Caraccio’s favorite fabric is silk screening polyester 12xx or 14xx. Real silk organdy will work as well; other fabrics can be experimented with. Wrinkles are a potential problem. Roll the fabric and do not let it touch the floor to avoid dust.
First, sand the backing material lightly to give it tooth. Next, clean the board of all dust with water and a rag and let dry. The black paint is then applied to the board after first thinning it to the consistency of light cream. If you are getting obvious brush strokes, thin the paint even more. After the black is dry, inspect the surface for any lumps and remove them. Next cut your fabric on the bias and cut the fabric larger than the backing by one half inch. The bias cut prevents fraying around the edges. Lay the fabric over the painted backing. It is helpful for the next step to lay your backing plate on a surface into which tacks or pushpins can be used. Tack around the edges only if there are wrinkles to be pulled out. Now with a brush, flood paint the fabric with more black paint. Make this a fluid application to drench the pores of the weave. This colors the silk and adheres it to the backing. Let dry completely, about three hours.
Now prepare the white paint by mixing 1/5 acrylic white paint with 4/5 acrylic medium (for smooth coating) or gel (for impasto effect). Now begin to make your image. If you do not wish to see brush strokes in the print, water down the white paint and use more layers (letting the paint dry before adding to the layers). You can wet the silk for water color effects. Let your plate dry and trim the edges. Ink with a square of cardboard or plastic ink spreader. Wipe the plate with tarlatan & print.
~ Maryland Printmakers InPrint article,