Gilding – “Change”

 

“Change” Limited edition hand-finished print, 23ct leaf on paper

I’ve been asked a few times about my method and process for gilding, suggestions on materials etc so here we go.

First off, I have to say that all materials knowledge is nabbed wholesale from Julie Caves at Jacksons Art Supplies who gave me all the recommendations that got me started. So any art supply links in this website will go to Jacksons. I’m sure other art supply shops also exist.

Enough caveats. Let’s talk materials.

Art supplies and materials for working with gold leaf on paper

1. Acrylic adhesive
Special adhesive for metal leaf, Polyvine acrylic gold size  available here. This is what you’re going to use to make the surface the gold adheres to.

2. Brushes
I use one for use with the adhesive above, and one for working with the gold leaf. Only the glue brush shown here, so keep an eye out for a black brush in other pictures. I use brushes that look significantly different so that I don’t mix them up.

3. Soap
Any kind of surfactant can be used, but I use Escoda or DaVinci specialist artist brush soap which is gentle enough not to mess with the glue. Escoda is with olive oil, dontcha know.

4. Varnish/lacquer
This is C Roberson & Co’s Universal Lacquer but don’t get confused, it’s for use on gold leaf.

5. Gold leaf
I use 23ct gold leaf, 20g. It comes in transfer sheets which are really easy to work with and one pack lasts for ages.

6. Gloves (cloth)
You can buy these from tons of places – they’re light cotton gloves. Breathable enough that your hands don’t sweat, thick enough that the oil on your skin won’t tarnish the gold.

Right that’s enough on the shopping list, now what do we do with them.

 

Method for Gilding on paper

Here’s how I used the above supplies to create my recent work “Change” which is on display right now at Chiara Williams Contemporary Art exhibition “Afternoon Tea” in Margate.

Step one – planning
First I created a grid to plan out the original drawing. This helps ensure that the buildings form the kind of overall shape I’m aiming for.

Step two – drawing
At this stage I’m drawing the detail of each building, but as I know I’m turning into a digital plate, I don’t have to worry too much about lines going over or minor errors. That’s what Photoshop is for.

Step three – digital print edition (giclee)
The drawing is finished as a digital plate and the edition is printed using archival ink on cotton rag paper.

Step four – creating the tear
In order to recreate the idea of Kintsugi or Kintsukuoroi, the work on paper becomes more sculptural, as the physical form of the paper combines with the content of the drawing.

Each print in the edition of 10 is hand-torn. Although the tear starts and ends in approximately the same location, the path of the tear naturally differs, meaning that each print in the edition is unique, while the original image itself remains consistent.

Step five – adhesive
The print is then carefully reassembled, with the two pieces matched back together as closely as possible. The glue or adhesive is then applied using a small brush. It’s absolutely essential that you take real care at this stage as the gold will stick exactly where you place the glue on the paper.

Here are some hints.

  • Use a separate brush only for this stage.
  • Pour some of the glue into a palette (I find ceramic is best for this) so that you can close the full bottle up as soon as possible after use
  • Apply a small amount of soap to the brush before introducing the brush to the adhesive, otherwise you’ll end up with your brush hairs glued permanently together really quickly
  • Follow the instructions on the bottle closely. In the example of the Polyvine, there are stated times to allow the glue to air dry and become tacky BEFORE even applying the gold. And then there’s a drying period after, before you can touch it or apply lacquer.
  • Wash the brush with more soap as soon as you can after you’ve made the line you want.

TOP TIP: As I found when I made my first Kintsugi print, make sure that the original work is 100% dry before you use glue and gold, otherwise this happens..

d’oh!!!

Step six – gilding!
Once the glue line is tacky (because you’ve followed the instructions, right? Then you need to take a sheet on gold leaf and apply it gold side down on the glued area, pressing firmly from the back.
As it’s a transfer, the gold should lift away from the sheet and adhere to the paper, where the glue is place.

Then, you’re going to want to press the gold to the paper, and this is where you’re going to use those important gloves.

TOP TIP: I find that using just one glove on my right hand makes me focus on what I’m doing and prevents me getting gold or glue all over the place.

And the last stage of the gold bit, is to brush away the excess. This is where you’re going to use your second brush – not the one you used for glue!!

Assuming that you’ve allowed the adhesive to tackify properly (new word, you heard it here first) then you can use the brush to scrub gently at the edge of the line. This will remove all tiny crumbs of gold and give you a really crisp line.

Again, as you’re going to have flecks of gold flying around at this point, you will need to be completely sure that everything else on the page which is not the line you’re trying to create, is completely dry. No wet ink, no spots of glue. There’s nothing more depressing than adding a smear of glue where you don’t want one. Trust me..;)

Step 7 (Final step) – Varnish/Lacquer
Having left the work to dry completely (and following the instructions on the bottle of adhesive), you can then varnish the line of gold leaf that you’ve applied. If like me you’re applying fine lines, you’ll want to use a small brush to make sure you control the line. You want to be lacquering ONLY the gold and not the rest of the paper, because it will really show up if you’re hanging in an exhibition.

Here I used the same brush as I’ve used for the adhesive. I don’t use soap this time, but I do make sure I’ve cleaned it thoroughly before and straight after use.

Then, more drying because you need to let the lacquer dry.

Hey, I never said this wasn’t tedious.

Finished.

And there you go. Gold line complete.

This hand-finished edition, “Change” is on display in margate until 16th July.

More info on the work.
More info on the exhibition.

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Enamel pins – Chicken

As an experiment, I recently turned one of my cartoon characters into a physical badge or pin. This was new for me, as most of my work stays resolutely 2D, with the exception of that series of eggshells back in 2014. So I guess it’s only appropriate that the character I chose to transmogrify was a chicken.

I’ve been drawing chicken characters for a while. They first showed up in a series of single panels cartoons which I was doing to entertain myself on Instagram

Which incidentally was where I first discovered Made by Cooper. (website here).

I took one of my digital drawings with a bit more detail and submitted it to Cooper to be made into a pin.

I think they did a really nice job with the artwork, but it makes me realise how much cleaner my line work has to be if I want to make more enamel badges in future.

Although it took a very long time to receive – compared to my 2017 amazon level expectations.. I think you’ll agree the final results are pretty darned spectacular.

I’ve also been very excited, since putting them on to Etsy, to discover a fan base for all things chicken in lovely Mexico. It was definitely a surprise to wake up to a load of orders in Mexico City!

I’ve had great fund packing them up and thinking of presentation concepts such as these little hand drawn cards.

Linocut – “Kintsukuroi”

H Locke_ Kintsukuroi

I’ve been a bit obsessed of late with the concept of Kintsugi – the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with gold – also know as Kintsukuroi. The underlying idea – that an object is more beautiful for having been broken.

Cue an opportunity to get the gold leaf out again and practice my l33t gilding skills, when an exhibition opportunity arose at the Mill E17, to be part of the printmaking exhibition Ink, Press, Go.

For this piece, I took the concept of Kintsukuroi into the (always challenging) world of linocut.

I make no secret of the fact that linocut really stretches my skills and my patience. I like the control of pen and ink. I know what is going to happen and I have complete control. Whereas with linocut or lino printing, I have no idea if the thing is going to work until I take it out of the press and peel back the paper from the plate.

It’s probably good for me, and good for my practice, to relinquish control from time to time. But I still find it stressful, especially with a deadline looming.

So, back to Kintsukuroi.

For this piece, I drew and cut a lino plate of a generic vase, which in itself was neither particularly hard, or particularly interesting.. excluding my various attempts to get it to print evenly.

And then I kind of freaked out my lovely instagram followers by doing this..

I admit, I freaked myself out a little too.

Next, I attempted to glue it back together with gold leaf. This is where I learned the importance of LETTING THE INK DRY FIRST.

Yeah, that didn’t work. It’s meant to be a fine straight line. As you can see, the gold stuck all over the place including off the print. Fail. Well, this is how we learn.

So, back we go and fortunately I’d made a few attempts at the linocut print, so I could tear even more of them apart! This time, waiting until everything was dry…

Bit more careful with the glue this time..

And of course I remembered to wear gloves to avoid tarnishing the gold with my human hand oils 😉

And there you have it.

Kintsukuroi – edition of one.

Linocut print and 23ct gold leaf.

Exhibition details here.

Mixed media – “Room For Growth”

About the exhibition

In 2016 I was invited to be part of an exhibition called Palimpsest, held in The Old Chocolate Factory in Bad Oeyenhausen, Germany.

The exhibition was curated and organised by Katja Rosenberg and Artcatcher with the aim of raising money to support multilingual guided tour for citizens with a migration background.

The theme “Palimpsest” means from old, make new. It also has the practical meaning associated with old drawing and writing materials, where ink etc was scraped from velum to allow it to be re-used.

“In the context of our town and current world, we mean the process of redefining the purpose of a  place in an ever changing world with its changing challenges and opportunities – the essence of the place stays visible, but its thinking has to change with the times.” (Katja Rosenberg, 2016)

As the exhibition was held in a building destined for regeneration by a local architecture firm, this was particularly salient.

All works entered were the same dimensions (30x120cm portrait), and installed hanging from the interior ceiling of the building, allowing visitors to walk between the works. In addition events and dance performances were held around the work during the exhibition.

About the work

“Room for growth”   Ink on rice paper.

Artists statement:

“We construct a building with one original purpose in mind. A generation invests in the maintenance of the building until it falls into disuse, or evolves its usage and meaning for the next generation.

In this work, we see a building which has multiple simultaneous uses, with inhabitants finding many ways to benefit from the structure. This building is a hive of activity – representing the ever-changing ecology of a building as well as the dual influence of both man and nature.

The artwork is constructed of layers of rice paper and maps of the Bad Oeyenhausen area containing the old Schokoladenfabrik building, which are visible beneath.”

About the process

For this piece I was inspired by the format (120cm portrait), the location and the concept of Palimpsest – which aligned with my ongoing interest in architecture and the relationship between people and the buildings they inhabit, particularly when those uses and facades change and grow together.

With the requirement for a long work, I wanted to work with a continuous sheet of paper of an appropriate size. I also wanted to include a map of the local area in which the exhibition and the tours would be held.

Therefore I combined a long sheet of rice paper with maps of Bad Oeyenhausen to allow both to be shown without impacting on the surface work itself.

It was also particularly relevant as I had recently been exploring cartography as art and drawing, as part of my studio work.

First, I had to test my hypothesis that by drawing on rice paper, enough of the map would be visible beneath

 

 

 

I created some practice drawings using Derwent Grafik pens as an initial experiment.

It actually created a nice balance with the relative opacity of the paper, so that there was an impression of the map behind, without obscuring or over-complicating the illustration on top.

When working with the rice paper, I soon realised two things.

  1. You cannot use pencil. Or at least, you cannot erase pencil, as it destroys the paper. Therefore you need to draw in ink first time, and you have to get it right.
  2. The ink bleeds massively into the paper, especially if your drawing uses slow and methodical marks, rather than broad light gestures. So whereas on standard drawing paper I might use Derwent Grafik pens to provide a little more movement and fluidity (because my lines are slow and methodical and can look a little rigid), when working with rice paper I needed to use drawing pens with more control.

 

Note: for more info on these differences between drawing pens, check out my very very long materials review on the Jacksons Art Supplies blog

Here you can see how I experimented with different pen sizes for different features in the architecture, working out which nib size of which drawing pen brand I would need to replicate the effect I’d expect on standard drawing paper.

In the end I settled on a combination of Unipin and Sakura Micron Pigment markers of various sizes, and used this as a constant guide as I developed the final work.

In order to work at this size, and fully understand the dimensions with which I was working, I pinned the full length map to a roll of fabriano drawing paper and taped it to my studio wall.

And because, as previously established, I only had one shot to draw this directly in ink, I basically had to pre-draw the framework on an identically sized piece of paper and copy across.

Here’s the final work.

  

 

Linocut – DFL

DfL h locke

DfL (Down from London) is a limited edition linoprint I created for a series of exhibitions in Margate in summer/autumn 2016.

It was a good test of my linoprint skills – which compared to the control I feel when I pick up a pen – are virtually non-existent.

Credit for the final result must go partially to advice from such sage experts as Martin Adams and Kirsten Schmidt (expert East London Printmakers) and Margate-based Nick Morely of Hello Print. Incidentally, if you want a superb book on linoprint for artists, you could do worse than grab a copy of Nick’s book.

As with all good things, I started with a drawing..

DfL h locke

Please note the wooden spoon – turns out that’s the most important part of the whole process. It’s all about the pressure baby, especially when you’re hand-printing lino.

For this edition, as you can see, I used Jacksons Water-based ink. This is a lot easier to clean up after, but as I’ll cover in other posts, for some editions I use Caligo especially when printing by hand.

DfL h locke

To cut the plate I used Pfeil tools. To be fair, they are the only ones I use or would consider – just so much control and such high quality. They’re pricey but 100% worth it – the best price I’ve found is at Jacksons.

DfL H locke

I love the way plates look when they’re freshly inked. So much potential (but also potential for it to go wrong… 😮 )

DfL H locke

DfL H locke

Here’s what happens when you don’t use enough spoon… sob.

DfL H locke

Here’s the first colour plate going on – with enough pressure! Thanks to my experts for the tips and I can confirm that the only way to hand print lino is essentially by applying pressure until you have worked up quite a sweat and creating one massive bicep. Maybe I shouldn’t have made this edition in the middle of a hot summer..

DfL H lockeThe first reveal of the second (black) plate… thank gawd I didn’t mess that bit up.

DfL h locke

Edition of 10 completed and suspended – it’s always quite satisfying to see them strung across the studio.

DfL H locke

DfL H locke

And I got to show them off at the Viking Gallery in Cliftonville, Margate.

I’ve also made a series of greetings cards based on this work, which are available in my etsy store.

Exhibition: Misbehaviour, Redruth & Mile End

 

 

misbehaviour_redruth

I’m in a new international exhibition in Redruth, Cornwall.

“Misbehaviour” (curated by Art Catcher and the ever amazing Katja Rosenberg) opens at CMR Gallery Redruth on 8th October until 29th October and includes artists from the UK and beyond. The full catalogue is available as PDF download here.

My piece for the exhibition is entitled “Scrumping” and is about the fine Devon & Cornwall tradition of.. ahem.. nicking apples from other peoples’ orchards. (NB. Not recommended. Very naughty).

Ink on paper, hand-gilded with 23ct gold leaf.

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Last night Misbehaviour came to London. The exhibition I was in at the end of last year has relocated to the Art Pavillion in Mile End and opened with the private view last night.

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The show, curated by Katja Rosenberg of Art Catcher will also include a series of workshops and events between now and 22nd Feb. Details on the website.

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Here are some photos from a very busy private view…

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there it is…

 

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And there are a load more photos being uploaded onto the event’s Facebook page.