First I tried a large relief block with a range of materials from around the house as per the course instructions. I printed it with a roller and damp paper. There was too much variation in height, it was hard to ink and a bit patchy to print. I got some great textures from the textiles items I used.
I also tried a block with texture paste made from acrylic medium and sand and sugar as I did not have any polyfilla. There was again too much variation in height and the print was hard to print and many of the lines I made did not come out.
I used a tracing of the same drawing to create a whole series of test blocks. This block used textiles for textures. There was too much variation in height in this block, it was hard to ink even with a dabber. I printed it on its own and over the previous block, using the purple and yellow to better effect this time as the inks mixed less as they were printed in two layers. I also added red for interest. I really like the combination of the two layers but it was very hard to register the damp paper. I'm not sure whether in general printmakers use this process as two layers, I have not found any that do yet but will keep looking.
My last test blocks using this same design were intaglio inspired by Suzie Mackenzie. I didn't have any carborundum grit, so I used I used a sandpaper base and then added foil and acrylic medium as demonstrated in Ann D'Arcy Hughes Printmaking. I found these textures a bit crude. I had more success with painting acrylic medium over the sandpaper in the second example and will try using this technique again as I really like the fluid marks and tonal range. I got this idea from a detailed PDF on collagraph on Bill Chambers website, he painted the medium over a block covered with carborundum, as this was unavailable I used sandpaper. As this process was completely new to me I kept the colors simple and just used one strong color, carbazole violet.
I found the intaglio process quite straight forward on my new press.
In these test prints I learnt that I need to keep the height of collage materials very similar. I also learnt about the textural possibilities of different materials and about creating color variations through dabbing.
Although I experimented with using more than one layer I am now wondering if this is in fact necessary, could I have achieved the same texture by collaging all of the textures onto one block, as long as I was careful maintaining the same height of the items?
I feel that I now have a vocabulary of textures to use in my print. I still need to take further test blocks to see if I will be using multiple blocks or combining textures on one block. I am also going to do some mono printing to explore the colors I want to use.
Basing these tests on my drawings has shown me how really understanding a subject gives me the knowledge of its shadows and highlights to create much more subtle shades within my prints.