A tuilegraph is a print made from vinyl tile, a material only recently available to the printmaker and on which can be treated with great versatility of method. On vinyl tile you can engrave with a burin, incise with a drypoint needle, or emboss using found objects. The tile can be cut into with woodcutting tools or cut all the way through with scissors to make shaped plates. The shapes can be used alone or in combination with other shapes to make larger images or with other plates to make a collagraph.
By using acetone on the tile, you can create tones, which look like aquatint when they’re printed. The resulting tile can be printed in intaglio, in relief, or in a combination of the two. Since the vinyl tile doesn’t interact with color, all colors used remain pure. This remarkable material’s possible relationship to printmaking was the discovery of Rina Rotholz, an Israeli printmaker who had young children at home and who was reluctant, therefore, to work with techniques that required acids.
WORKING THE TILE
When you have worked the tile, it will have an image that can be printed as an inkless intaglio ( an embossment), an intaglio, a relief, or a combination of all three.
Materials and Equipment
Krylon acrylic spray
Found objects such as flat metal gaskets or thin coins
Press set up for printing
Blotter larger that the tile
Wax paper larger than the tile
Process. To begin, draw gently on the tile with a pencil. The drawing can be either a simple outline or a complicated design, and you can erase it easily if necessary, by rubbing with a cloth or with your fingers. Work gently on the surface of the tile with your pencil, as pressure can dent the surface. When you’re satisfied with the image, spray the tile with Krylon the fix the drawing. Be sure that the acrylic is dry before you continue to work on the tile.
Warm the tile on the hot plate. A cold tile is brittle, and any attempt to cut into it without warming it first will result in cracked, ragged lines. Take care not to let the tile become too hot to touch- if it does, it will tend to flow like one of Salvador Dali’s watches (see Figure 1).
Engrave or draw into the warm tile with a burin or a drypint needle. Both of these tools will incise fine lines in the tile so that it can be printed in intaglio. Try using woodcutting tools also- you’ll find that using them on a vinyl tile is very much like cutting into linoleum. See Figure 2 for the proper positions of your hands and the tile when cutting. A tile cut with woodcutting tools is usually printed in relief, but it can be printed in intaglio as well.
To impress thin pieces of metal or plastic found objects into a tile, place the tile on the hot plate. Lay the objects on the tile where you want them. Then, when the tile is warm, press the objects into place. Lift the tile up with the objects on it and place it on wax paper on the bed of the press- the wax paper keeps the tile from cooling too quickly when it comes in contact with the cold press bed. Put a blotter over the tile and the objects, pull the blankets down over the blotter, and run the tile through the press. This is the time to use your oldest printing blankets, since the found objects may cut them. When you remove the blankets, the blotter, and the found objects, the tile should have a clear impression of the objects in it. If, however, the tile wasn’t warm enough, then the impression of the objects won’t show clearly. You’ll have to warm the tile again and repeat the process just described.
You can shape the tile by cutting it with a scissors. Just remember to warm the plate before you try to cut it (see Figure 3).
You can also use a brush and acetone to make a tone on the plate, which will look like an aquatint or a soft ground tone when the plate is printed. To do this, pour a small amount of acetone into a container – it evaporates very quickly, so keep the larger, original container tightly closed. Brush the acetone on the cold tile in the places where you want a tone. The tone will become darker with each application of the acetone – and be sure to let the plate dry between applications.
Take a proof at any point while working the tile to see how the image is progressing. After printing, you can continue to work on the tile until it’s esthetically satisfying.
Since the tile is very brittle when it’s cold, you may have to apply contact paper to the back to strengthen its. Then even if the tile cracks, the pieces won’t separate, and you will still be able to print (although the cracks will show). Cut the contact paper slightly larger than the tile, and place the tile face down on the table. Remove the protective backing of the contact paper, and place one end of the glued paper on the back of the tile. Smooth it down until it covers the tile. Trim the excess paper from the edges of the tile with a scissors of a razor blade, and then run the tile through the press to remove any bubbles in the contact paper.
PRINTING A TUILEGRAPH
Print vinyl tiles with intaglio ink in much the same way you would print a metal plate (see Chapter 13). There are a few differences: the ink used for a tuilegraph should be very oily- add enough linseed oil so that it runs off the palette knife quickly; use a stencil brush to rub the intaglio ink into the deep crevices of the tile before wiping with tarlatan; and you must heat the tile before printing. If you print a warped tile cold, the pressure of the roller will crack it. You can roll surface color as usual over the tile after it has been inked with intaglio ink ( see Chapter 15).
REGISTERING THE TILE AND ANOTHER PLATE
A tile may be printed with an additional surface color coming from another plate made of cardboard, aluminum, zinc, or steel, from a second tile, or indeed from any flat surface that will withstand the pressure of the press. The second plate may be any shape or size and can be larger or smaller than the tile. If it’s larger than the tile, you’ll have to print it first; if it’s smaller, then you’ll print the tile first; if the tile and the other plate are the same size, then either can be printed first.
Please note that this method of registration is extremely useful when the plates printed together are not the same size and when exact registration is not crucial to the print.
Materials and Equipment
-Tile, inked in intaglio, in relief, or both
-Second plate of cardboard coated with Krylon, of zinc, aluminum, steel, etc., inked with surface color
-press set up for printing with pressure adjusted to accommodate the thickest plate
-paper dampened for printing, 12” larger that the larger of the two plates
-2 damp blotters, smaller that the paper but larger than the largest plate
Process. Place the larger of the two plates on the bed of the press and cover it with the dampened paper so that there’s a 6” border of paper at the top and the bottom of the plate.
If the plate is thinner than the tile, place a damp blotter over the paper. Be sure that it covers the plate, pull down the blankets, and roll the bed through the press. Catch the printing paper, but not the blotter, under the roller. Lift up the blankets and drape them over the roller. Remove the blotter- keep it on a flat surface, as you’ll use it again. Lay the paper over the blankets, and remove the plate.
Check the bed of the press to be sure it’s clean. If necessary, wipe it clean and dry it carefully. Then place the paper down on the bed of the press. Lay two dampened blotters over the paper (use the one you’ve just removed plus one other). Pull the blankets down over the blotters and paper, and roll the bed trough the press. Roll just far enough so that the blotters are free of the roller.
Please note that since there’s no plate for you to feel to tell when you’ve gone far enough, stop at the point that you think is correct, lift up the blankets, and remove the blotters. If you’ve gone too far, simply put the blankets back down and roll the press back over the 6” border of paper until it’s caught under the roller.
You now have a printed image- a counterproof –of the first plate on the bed of the press. This will allow you to see the plates in relation to one another. Place the second inked plate where you want it on top of the counterproof. If the press is already adjusted to the thickness of the plate, go ahead and print. If, however, you are now printing a cardboard which is thinner than the tile just used, then place a damp blotter over the paper to add enough pressure for the cardboard to print properly. Then pull the blankets down and roll the plate through the press.
See Chapter 19 for information concerning the care of the tools and for cleanup procedures after printing. In addition, please note that you must store the tiles on a flat surface, as they tend to take the shape of whatever they are resting on.
WHAT WENT WRONG AND WHY
Cracks in the tile appear in the print. Can anything be done to remove them?
The tile is so badly warped that when I put it on the hot plate, only a small part of the tile heats up.
Coat both sides of the crack with Elmer’s glue. Hold the tile together, and wipe the excess glue off the surface with your fingers or with a cloth. Put a strip of clear tape across the crack until the glue dries, and then remove it.
The very nature of the tile causes it to crack.
Place the tile in hot water until it’s warm. Then lay it on a flat surface. It will become perfectly flat as it cools.
You may have left the tile on an uneven surface.
Intaglio Printmaking Techniques
By Ruth Leaf
Chapter Twenty-one: Tuilegraphs, pages 206- 211
Copyright 1976 by Watson-Guptill Publications
NE 1625.L4 1976 765 76-16089