Sunday 14 April 2013


This is one of those 'coincidence' posts.  I had made some monochrome prints for Kristin Dudish's Tutorial Try Outs on Tuesdays, and had decided to complete some of them with red. 

Then I checked out this week's theme for Artist's Play Room and found we were to follow Tracey Fletcher's lead a few weeks ago of Blorange (a combination of blue and orange) and invent a name for two colours we like to use.  

I love working in black and red so I chose BLARLET.  It should really, of course, make the word Bled, or perhaps Bred, but neither of those is very interesting and have other connotations.  So I stepped sideways a little and combined BLACK and SCARLET to use for my prints, and this will also be my entry for Artist's Play Room this week.

You know those students who take a serious interest in everything a teacher is saying - and then go and do something different.  Here I am, guilty of just that.

The excellent tutorial was about gelatine printing.  I enjoyed the tutorial, but realised straight away that I really don't have the room or the facilities or even the time to try this type of printing.

Now taking a course or following a tutorial is really about learning something new and stretching oneself.  The gelatine seems to give a soft base, so I decided to find something I already had that would be softer than the usual printing plate, and came up with a kiddies pack of A5 foam sheets.  I taped a sheet to card with masking tape and set to.

I chose black because my first attempts with acrylic paint dried too quickly (and I was too lazy to mix it with flow improver as a retarder).  The only printing ink I had left was a tube of black, so that's when I decided to go with Blarlet, using a new foam sheet, and just make monochrome images.

For an inking-up sheet I used a paper palette with special shiny sheets made for using acrylic paint.  This saved some cleaning up at the end because I could just fold up the used sheet and put it in my waste bin.

I made about 30 prints, some OK, some reasonable and some failures, and the ones I show in this post are just a few that I was fairly happy with.  I like the way the masking tape forms a border around the prints, and in some cases I left it as a border.

This is the Blarlet version:

The printing was done yesterday, and today I had hoped to add the red with paint or pencils, but time being what it is, in the end I decided to cheat and add the colour on Photoshop.  I can always add the colour by hand another day.

I kept trying different materials for the masking pieces, and some proved less successful than others.  I can see that one advantage of the gelatine print seems to be that it is so soft that things like twigs sink into the gelatine and make a good image, whereas they didn't sink into the foam as successfully.  Even these stencils I made from thin card didn't show all the detail when I printed.

The images above show the first and second pulls - and I often like the second pull better than the first.  Here's the Blarlet version:

Again, I left the masking tape border - or at least most of it.  This has been over-cropped.  I like the contrast of the golden slipper with the black and red.

Some of the images were printed on thick white cartridge paper and others on cream.  I tried colouring the faces red but it didn't work, and I like the monochrome for the 'conversation piece'.  The ribbon print was not too successful, and I think I have posted it upside down, but I've included it because given more time it should be possible to make a better print.

The ribbon really stands out in red against the black background.

At this stage I experimented a little more, and placed a screwed-up-and-opened-out piece of cling film around another foam sheet, which I taped to card as well as I could.

The image isn't marvellous, but I can see that it has possibilities.  The print above has a look of a mysterious wood, so I'm quite pleased with it.

This was my last print.  It's  certainly different, and has a lot of movement.  The face mask was added just to see if it was possible to mix masking with the cling film, and it is.  More there to experiment with some time.

I wanted to experiment more with the cling film approach, but energy levels had dropped and I was tired - didn't even clear up much which I always try to do.

So, I'm sorry I didn't actually use gelatine, Kristin, but watching the tutorial did make me use a couple of printing methods I hadn't tried before, but that I will include in my printing 'armoury'.  And I've got plenty of prints that can be used in collages, etc.  So altogether I'm very glad I took the plunge.

Check out Tutorial Try Outs on Tuesdays here, and have a look at the Artist's Play Room in a few days for some great images.


  1. Jez!!! Gelatine printing is on my 'Must do list' you have achieved such amazing results loving the Blarlet!. I am going to withdraw my APR entry in shame! :)

    1. Having a sleepless night, so I got up for a drink and to break the sleeplessness. And i was so dissatisfied with this post that I thought I might just remove it before anyone saw it. So I appreciate the comments, and am glad you didn't withdraw your grellow tulips. I like them. Thank you morag, you have helped.

  2. Jez these turned out so well....I love the blarlet! I especially like the one that is blarlet.... and then the last one has so much dimension too!! I always like black and red together!!

    Hugs Giggles

  3. have such a detailed post here crammed with much so I'll have to revisit so that I don't miss anything.
    The 'blarlet' was very clever and looks brilliant.
    Funny - when I type blarlet my pretext puts in claret!
    Thanks for sharing all the details ;)

  4. Thanks, Neesie, you buck me up. One detail I forgot was that I dry my prints by pegging them to my clothes airer, so they don't take up much space and don't float around the floor.

  5. I need to find time to check this out - looks like too much fun!
    cheers, dana

  6. I love your creative problem solving, resourcefulness and willingness to experiment. It's an inspiring attitude and one that should be shared, regardless of how you feel about your outcomes. I really love the effect you got with the cling film and the foam sheet - I can't wait to play around with the idea myself!

  7. Hmmm - I thought I would have to sit this one out (not that I've done any yet but wanted to start this week) but didn't think I'd have time. Maybe I can 'cheat' too and use some of the techniques on my gelli plate. Thanks Jez ;)

    I love the screwed up cling film and the 'talking heads' are fab!

  8. Well I think Blarlet is ingenious!! And all the ones you created are fabbilicious (made up word - lol) :0) Mo

  9. These are delightful designs, Jez, especially the photoshop finished flowers and the golden slipper piece. The blarlet color combo makes them all very striking. I've heard of gelatin prints, but didn't know much about the process until I read your informative post. I'll need to try them some time. Blessings!

  10. You're so smart to use the foam! Love your experimental art and the blarlet results. The one with the ribbon and the cling film piece especially attracts me.

  11. I love the way your mind works, Jez! (I'm very glad you "took the plunge", too!)

    I also have to add that I really like the texture of your emerald monster (I don't think it's horrible at all).

    Also, those levitating oranges are FANTASTIC! Even the photographs have so much character... Fun, fun, fun!!!

    Thanks for all of the wonderful inventiveness & inspiration you share!


  12. Aha! Black and red--but changed to scarlet! More interesting.
    I do like those colors together, too. The striking, bright contrast of the red against the absorbent black--love a red accent. :)

  13. love the name blartlet! I'm goign to have to come back and read more closel about all your experimenting because it looks like so much fun!


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