Lasercut at FABLAB and traditional printing

Amsterdam Grafisch Atelier (AGA) 2012 Residency
Creative Research/Technical Summary for Boundless Blog
by Scott Ludwig

My adventure in Amsterdam began on 30 June, 2012. After being formally introduced to a well-equipped printmaking studio and unpacking my photography equipment and various printmaking supplies, I immediately started out photographing the environs.
sandblasting at Bevo Atelier

TITLE: “Slap Tag DecollĂ© #001” from the portfolio, “Series Amsterdam”
MEDIA: Ultrachrome print on grommeted Hahnemuhle Geman Etching
              digital rag paper with silver leaf, overprinted with photopolymer woodcut relief print
TITLE: “Cross-Cultural Mash Up (Beyond Hokusai)”from the portfolio, “Series Amsterdam”
                                MEDIA: Ultrachrome print on grommeted Hahnemuhle Geman Etching
digital rag paper, overprinted with lasercut relief print

The final image is a hybrid print; a work on paper resulting from a fusion of contemporary, digital inkjet and traditional relief and/or intaglio printmaking processes. Using experimental, technical processes including photopolymer relief sandblasting on wood (at Bevo Glas Kunst Atelier) and lasercut acrylic (at FABLAB Amsterdam) to achieve highly detailed, linear effects and a sensuous surface texture.
stages of proces:
Daily “photo-excursions” resulted in a vast collection of images documenting the urban environment of Amsterdam Centrum; edited in Adobe Photoshop.
My images are constructed in layers, several layers are often digitally merged and printed on an inkjet printer.

1 The inkjet layer is printed using an Epson 9800 large-format printer (AGA has a very well-equipped digital studio for this purpose); on superior-quality, Hahnemuhle German Etching 310gsm rag paper coated for inkjet printing. The printer is loaded with archival-quality, pigmented inks that are permanently stable and waterfast, thus allowing appropriate dampening of the paper prior to traditional press-printing.

2 Silver Leafing: Inspired by the masterworks of the early, Northern Renaissance, I added bits of silver  with silver-alloy leaf directly on the inkjet print to create a contemporary look, and a deeper sense of depth and luminosity. Over time, I hope these areas these areas will oxidize and tarnish, thus creating a subtly changing image over time and place the work within the historical context of Netherlandish image-making.

3 The Photopolymer Relief/Woodcut Process: An additional layer will be “overprinted” directly on top of the inkjet print. Initially generated as inkjet transparencies, these are contact-exposed to a special, abrasive-resistant, photopolymer film laminated to a sheet of soft plywood (multiplex) substrate. The exposure is completed by using a vacuum table and UV light source.

4 After exposing, processing and drying the polymer film, it is laminated to the multiplex substrate using a water/glue adhesive mixture. Proper adhesion of the polymer film to the multiplex is essential for successful sandblasting of the woodblock. Areas in the transparency that are black, will wash out of the polymer and when sandblasting, will remove the wood creating negatives/non-printing areas; areas that are clear will harden the polymer, forming a resist to the etching action of the sandblasting process. These areas then form the uppermost, “raised” surface on the final woodblock. When inking, these are the parts of the woodblock that carry the ink to form the print.

5 Once the adhesive is fully cured, the polymer-laminated multiplex is ready for sandblasting. This yields a highly detailed image in deep relief. Sandblasting of my matrix while in Amsterdam was completed by Willem van Oijen of Bevo Glas Kunst. (See image 1, 2, and 3 - Willem sandblasting the polymer woodblock and the woodblock after sandblasting). Many thanks to Willem for taking the time to assist me with this project!

6 After sandblasting and cleaning the woodblock, it’s now ready for traditional press-printing over the inkjet print. Image 4 illustrates a proof on newsprint from the block. This proof was printed in a cool, silver, metallic gradient. The ink was modified slightly to maximize detail in final print.

Actual prints are now in permanent archive of Amsterdam Grafisch Atelier can be viewed at Laurierstraat 109 by appointment; prints are available for purchase

work by Scott Ludwig can be seen at the BOUNDLESS kick-off exhibition from 6 september at CBK Amsterdam
information about A.I.R. at AGA contact E/ info@amsterdamsgrafischatelier.nl