More masks…

Further experiments with my masked poppy monoprints.

First, combining +ve and -ve masks..

..and wrestling with the problem of how to register the two: a) getting the +ve and -ve masks positioned correctly, and b) positioning the printing paper identically for both prints.


Lining up the -ve mask wasn’t a problem, as it was the same size as the printing plate, with the cutout in the middle. But the problems came with trying to position the +ve mask – an isolated design that had to be placed in the middle of the inked-up plate. (If I’d thought this through a bit more upfront, I would have used a different design that incorporated a bleed over the edge of the print).

This wasn’t made easier by the fact that my +ve mask had quite a bit of movement in it. In the end I drew some guidelines around the plate to help, but this still meant placing the +ve mask by sight. The result? Not great, not fun, and certainly not repeatable.

Thank goodness…

Luckily, I got a great tip from another student – Carol Stimpson (check out her great work at her blog) – something I’d not thought of, which was to attach the +ve mask (very lightly) to the printing paper (in which case it’s easy to place it accurately), instead of placing it on the inked plate. Aha! I tried it – it worked perfectly! (Thanks Carol). Here’s the result:

(as before, the white border around the poppy is just because of the thickness of the masks, and not being able to apply enough pressure – this would disappear if I were to use a press, probably. I like it though).

Here’s a ghost version – this was easy to register as the masks had already been removed – and I just taped the printing paper with a “hinge” of masking tape against the printing plate.

Afterwards I thought of another potential way to do it (short of an overhead projector)… placing the -ve mask on the uninked plate,  rolling the ink over the mask, then removing the mask before printing (although I reckon it would be hard to roll the ink nicely around the shape details).

Next: some experimenting

1. With leaves – first using them as + masks over a ghost plate  to get the white outline, then pressing them into ink, then back onto the print. (Unfortunately none of them are poppy leaves but never mind!) I like some of this.. especially the ones that overlap the red background.

For this next one I first rolled and printed a light green background then added lines made using the end of a paintbrush, some dry-brushing, some darker green ink brushed on, a net from some supermarket clementines, some quinoa (made holes in the printing paper, oops), some lightly spattered acrylic medium, and …er.. some Rice Crispies. Well, as i said, experimenting!

Next, I used the -ve mask with red ink to get the poppy shape… but before printing painted in some darker red and green ink onto the space within the mask…..BUT, getting tired at this stage, forgot to wipe some of the smudges from the mask before I printed it. You can see the resulting smudginess especially on the poppy leaf.  Very annoying but I don’t suppose I’ll make the same mistake again! Here I was trying to make the red poppy a bit more transparent, so added more medium to the ink.


Good and bad here, and I have to say I was getting rather frustrated with the whole registration project, but very chuffed to finally get a good result. I was really happy to move on to some experimentation and feel I’ve learnt a lot there about what to expect from variety of effects – lots of things to try!


3 responses to “More masks…

  1. Hi Jackie

    I’m glad you got the registration effect that you wanted. I must say however that I think your off-centre registration (the first of your images) has a very interesting dynamic. I think this looks better than you think!

    I have to say that I just love your experiments. Your first experimental image looks like a beautiful bouquet, but the second of your experiments is the one that really caught my eye. The red and green hues compliment each other perfectly and I find the spatters and smudges absolutely charming – honestly I really enjoy them. The spontaneous, quirky feel is something I really strive for. This print is my favourite of this particular post.

    Lovely work.

  2. hello again, Jackie – I don’t know if you saw that i’d left a comment on your “About” page so i’m adding one here just in case. I enjoyed reading about your work with masks etc, it brought back memories of the PM1 projects and the frustration of trying to place the positive mask when it doesn’t have any points of contact with the page margin. You’ve managed it really well, though, much better than I ever managed.

  3. Pingback: Back to masks: “Mother” monoprint | Jackiehunter's Blog

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