At the start of apple picking season here in New England, I initiated a new print project. It began with me eating the delicious fresh fruits and photographing the surface changes as I bit and munched away at the once smooth, round forms. I began researching apple legends, folklore and traditions such as Snow White, Johnny Appleseed, William Tell, Sir Isaac Newton, "The Big Apple", Apple Wassailing, just to name a few. I'm hoping to find similarities between my printed images of half eaten forms and some of the apple legends.
Here are three of the four, 4.5"x6"linoleum prints I have created so far. (scaled to fit block)
I want to share a surface enhancing technique called flocking I used in the making of the print, "Protecting the Seed Within". I learned three important points when working with this material: 1. Always wear a dust mask 2. Use a sieve; don't sprinkle from the container and 3. A small quantity of flocking goes a long way.
In flocking, small fiber particles are adhered to a substrate using an adhesive. As a child I remember rubbing my hands across velvety surfaces of Christmas cards to which evergreen trees and Santa's clothing were flocked. Flocking materials can be purchased at your local arts and crafts store and comes in a wide variety of colors.
For my print, I printed the first state in the same color as the flocking; bright red. My thinking was if there were any gaps in the flocking, the unflocked area would be camouflaged with the same color ink.
After completing the small edition of ten prints, I immediately sprinkled the wet printed surface with flocking and pressed down gently with newsprint. The wet ink acted as the adhesive. I removed the excess flocking by carefully shaking the paper over a tray. But I learned rather quickly that the more I handled this material i.e. recycling the excess back into the tray, an electrical charge was generated known as static electricity which caused the fine flocking to clump into small hard pills rendering the material un-usable. Of course, I didn't know this was going to happen but...
I recalled watching a YouTube video of a model train enthusiast making a flocking tool by soldering together a battery operated automatic fly swatter (swatter removed) and a handleless kitchen sieve. Thank goodness I was intrigued enough to watch the construction because I now understood why the sieve tool was so important for applying an even coating of green flocking to his model train landscape; no static electricity means no pilling.
So I searched around the studio knowing I did not have a sieve and found some yardage of starched cheese cloth called tarlatan cloth (used in inking up etching plates). The stiff cloth was awkward to use but I was successful in creating a even coating of flocking on my wet prints.
After the prints were dry, I inked up the newly carved linoleum with a dark brown ink and using a printing press, embossed the new color into the red flocking. The areas of the un-inked carved linoleum were embossed into the flocking as well.
The use of flocking increased the tactile sensation and with it the need to caress the printed surface; quite fitting for an apple image which looks like a shapely woman and the seeds within perhaps representing an unborn child.