Material/Process/Print: Moving to Letterpress

I’ve been trying to find somewhere to do these lithography prints, however its been really difficult to find somewhere that would do a short run of prints and do it cheaply . At first I thought I might move to stone lithography, but thats not something I can do at the university. It was then suggested I do Letterpress which was a technique I had originally wanted to do.

I’ve started looking up some source images, to help spur some inspiration.


These images came from the book Letterpress : new applications for traditional skills, which goes through some of the ways letterpress is being used in a contemporary setting. I was really drawing to the bottom image, with its layering of colour and shape. It would be fun to do something like this with an informative tone.





Material/Process/Print: Rachel Littlewood

Whilst looking into people who would be at the hothouse talk, I came across Rachel Littlewood who used lithography in an experimental way.

The project was called Press P it was a collaborative project in which six pairs were asked to push the lithography printer to its limits and create experimental work. She worked on switching the plates so that the colours came out in strange ways. She also just use two colours and switched those so the cyan thought it was magenta and the magenta thought it was cyan. She utilised the colour marks to frame the work and show how the colours were changing. Which is such a classic image to use when experimenting with colour within printing.

Her website shows more of the development and colour differentiation she managed to achieve.



All images taken by Rachel Littlewood, from her website.

Material/Process/Print: Calverts Visit

I got the opportunity to visit Calverts a Co-Op printers in Hackney to have a more in depth look at their lithography printer.

We started off looking at the printer itself where Arthur explained the use of CMYK within the printer and how the paper passes through each colour to create an image. Inside the each colour section are several rollers, one that feeds the colour in, one that has the plate which has the image on, another feeds the paper through, and another is the blanket roller which takes the image from the plate and prints it onto the paper. From that I understood its a very complicated way of printing and that there are a lot of mechanisms that go into it.

The reason lithography is so special is that it uses water on the areas of the plate that aren’t being printed. So the ink is repelled from the water and goes to the areas that do need to be printed. After the paper has be printed into, because its still wet and the prints will naturally fall on top of each other once they’ve come out of the machine. The paper is sprayed with a small amount of starch powder, so the paper doesn’t stick together.

You don’t just have to use CMYK Pantone colours can be created for he prints that you make, but it would cost more.

I also got to see where the printing plates are made, it very similar to producing your own film. The plate is subjected to light to evoke a chemical reaction, therefore creating the printable plate.

Overall, its a fascinating process which makes me want to use it even more. Hopefully I manage to find somewhere to use a lithography printer thats cheap!

Ellipsis: Divider page design

I really struggled to find inspiration for the divider page design, I think my downfall was looking in the wrong places. So I broadened my search too look at book design and other books that have used divider pages. I also looked on various visual communication blogs and websites and cam up with the images below.

cecile divider page presentation

From this research I started design whatever cam to mind, using the research as a basis as well as some unexpected things. This was where I really found it difficult to really go for it and do whatever. I kept giving myself boundaries.

cecile divider page presentation (1)

I eventually moved on to decide on the design aspects of the page, like the type and colour. I landed on type thats fairly easy and simple to read but had a clear hierarchy, I also think the type really suits the colour.

cecile divider page presentation (2)

With the format I had originally wanted it a single A5 page using both sides. For some reason that kept looking strange, having the name and piece description looked more cohesive. So I decided to have it as an A4 horizontal page that folded in to A5. It means that there would be blank pages facing each piece of print.

cecile divider page presentation (3)

This is my final design I ended up having the name frame the piece description and fill the page. Filling the page became my aim as it felt too blank and floaty. I’m quite pleased with its contrast but there are definitely a few things I’ve realised looking back.  I think it only works with the two colours and looking at the brief it seems that we’d only be allowed to use one riso colour. Another things is I planned the layout to my name so I’m not too sure how it would work with other names.

cecile divider page presentation (4)

Material/Print/Process: Lithography

For the current studio project I’ve been focusing on lithography as my method of printing for this project, as it a printing process I had no prior knowledge of. So I decided to do some research on the process. A lot of the information I came across was extremely boring and convoluted, although it gave me more of an an insight I still wanted to know more.

This is when I came across a few books that described the process by showing the kinds of prints and colours it creates. The book below show how the CMYK colours have to be laid out in order for the image to not create a moire pattern (creating a basket weave pattern). It also explains the use of halftone dots, to give an illusion of a full colour image. This might be something I’ll focus on in my five prints as its unique to lithography.

litho and cpt booklitho and cpt book 2

Ellipsis: Small Publishers Fair

Its was so exciting to find loads of publishers and people who make books in such fascinating ways and on some amazing topics. I was drawn in by so many of the stalls, in particular a man who had screen printed a book made completely out of aluminium foil.

However a publishers that really caught my eye was Ugly Duckling Presse a publishers based in Brooklyn, New York but Katherine who was running the stall is moved to London to be their correspondent here. They started by having a small  poetry zine called 6×6 in the 1990’s, it contained 6 poets who had 6 pages to fill with poems. From there they became a nonprofit publishers made up of volunteer (although a few are paid) making books because it’s what they love to do.


These are the 26 and 30 issue of the 6×6 magazine, the covers of which are letterpressed and the interiors are offset lithography. I asked as to why the corner is cut off but Katherine didn’t know, she thought it might have something to do with the fact that the owner of the publishers is Russian. She also said that she designed the cover for the 26 issue which is probably why it’s one of her favourites. I think I’m just drawn to the colour on each magazine they go seamlessly together.


Design Competition: Poster workshop 2

The task this week was to add text to the illustrations that we’d made the previous week. We were given these pieces of acetate with summer show information varying in point sizes to be place over our illustrations. Then came a short briefing of how we might use the type in an innovative and interesting way, the aim was to work creatively and break the boundaries of what we thought should be done. I love this was of working, because you can work quickly though so many ideas. The first few are generally your worst and then you get the hang of it and start to see the type in a different way.

Often when working this way you hit a wall and don’t really know how to proceed, your kind of stuck for ideas. I found this happened quite a lot, however it was suggested, I cut the type to fit around the illustration so it appeared like a layer. I also turned the illustration upside down, that gave another wave of ideas.

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This was my final one, the one I was the happiest with. Looking back on it though, I wished I’d moved the visual communication to a better place off to the side somewhere. Maybe making the CASS Show slightly bigger too.

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British Museum workshop

At the British Museum we were asked to, observe an piece and draw it from all directions, to include the background the foreground, but exclude the people. I’m not great at drawing, so I did multiple drawings varying in detail, the most detail came from the architecture.  I moved on quite quickly to drawing the people, as the object I was drawing became too frustrating, therefore I focused on the more interesting aspects.




The following few images are where I started to really focus on the people surrounding the objects, what they were focusing on, and what they were saying. I noticed that most of the people too their time to take pictures and selfies with each artifact, but didn’t spend much time looking at it and taking in its information. A lot of people just wanted to fist bump the arm.

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Material/Process/Print: Etching Induction

Etching has been a printing process I’ve wanted to know more about since I started my degree, I knew very little about it, but it sounded fascinating. The above picture shows the paper and plate just before they’ve been put through the roller to print.

The etching process is quite lengthy, but I wouldn’t say its too complicated. You start off with your plate, which can be made from zinc, copper or steel, however in the workshop zinc is more commonly used. First things first the plate has to be beveled, this is when you file the edges of the plate to roughly a 45-degree angle. This is so when the plate and the paper go through the printing roller the plate doesn’t pierce the paper.

Next, the plate is polished so that it becomes like a mirrored surface. The plate is then washed with water and degreased using an ammonia and white chalk mix. To check its fully degreased pour water over the plate and if it slides about instead of pooling it’s then ready for the next step.

After degreasing the plate has to become very dry and warm. To do this place on a hot plate or dry it with a hairdryer. It has to be warm so that the soft/hard ground can go on easily, this is a substance that’s slightly tacky put onto the plate so you can create your design. A thin layer is rubbed all over the plate, the ground needs to set, leave the plate for a minute or so, then its ready for your design.

Using an etching tool, which is basically a needle on the end of a stick of wood, you can start drawing very lightly onto the plate. Then the plate is ready to be put into the nitric acid, place the plate gently into the acid and move the plate occasionally so that bubbles don’t form on the surface aggravating the process.  The amount of time the plate needs to spend in the acid does vary depending on the ground used and how clean you want you lines to come out. Twelve minutes is a rough estimate. Take the plate out and then place in water to rinse off. The ground is then removed using white spirit.

It’s at this point that you’d prepare your paper, which has to be cotton rag paper and soaked in water for at least half an hour.Whilst the paper is soaking you can ink up your plate. Take a small amount of ink on a small cardboard square and ink up the plate using horizontal and vertical lines to completely cover the plate. Then take a rag and work the ink into the plate using circular motions. Take the back of your palm, when most of the ink has been rubbed in, and work the rest of the ink in.

Your then ready to print, dry you paper between to larger sheet of paper and roller and big roller over them to squeeze the water out. Take your paper to the roller press and place it onto of some newsprint, place your plate on top of the paper and then some more newsprint on top of the plate. Fold the thick roller blankets onto the paper and pull the roller over your plate.


Then you have your first etching! You can probably use your plate several thousand more times.

Etching 20 August 1968 I (L.289) 1968 by Pablo Picasso 1881-1973

Picasso etching.

Shepherd's Purse 5 2002 by Michael Landy born 1963

Michael Landy etching.


Joe Tilson etching




Pictures are taken from Tate website.

Ellipsis: Type Specimens.

For the first part of the core workshop, we were asked to make a type specimen. This is something I’d done before with Kim so I had some familiarity with the task. Although the hardest part for me is actually choosing the type, it was the first time I did this exercise and it was the same this time too. There’s just too much to choose from.

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I eventually decide on Quicksand a typeface from Google fonts, it’s simple but has some interesting quirks.

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I started off by creating a fun illustration out of some of the glyphs for the first page. I enjoy this type of thing because you’re just having fun with the form of the type and seeing what might fit together. It originally was going to be green with light almost translucent pink accents, however, although I love that colour combination it’s vastly overdone. So I settled with something a bit more subtle.

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The theme for this type specimen was to show how the type works with layered colours and transparency. Here I’m just playing about with the orientation of the text, which again is something I find frustrating because there are too many options, I was aiming for it to look clean yet slightly edgy. But that wasn’t going as planned.

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Eventually, landed on the above format. Simple and compact, I’m not too sure if it really speaks to the typeface, but I like the layout and think it represents the type in an efficient way.