This is a simple process to print an etching or collagraph without a press. Since the Tar Gel flows into every groove, the impression is actually better then a “pressed” print.
Materials needed are as follows:
- An etching or collagraph plate
- Clear Tar Gel, a Golden Acrylic product (available from Daniel Smith, 800-426-6740, danielsmith.com)
- Oil based ink or oil paint
- Old phone book
- Small pieces of matte board cut up
- Ink the plate as you would normally for an etching or collagraph.
- Roll surface with a second color of ink
- Dribble Tar Gel over the surface and, with a card, spread without touching the inked
surface of the plate. It should be about 1/8 inch thick and fairly even. Don’t
worry if it is not perfect, Tar Gel tends to be somewhat self leveling. Set on a flat
surface to dry.
- Let dry over night. A fan in the room but not directly on the piece helps.
- When tar gel is clear, loosen around plate edges first.
- Pull off image in a slow steady manner without stopping.
- Let dry over night image side up.
- The surface roll is necessary to assure that there is an oil barrier between plate and Tar Gel. Without that barrier the Tar Gel will bond to the plate. This is particularly critical with collagraph since the plate is usually something acrylic likes to bond to; for example, other forms of acrylic. If no relief top color is desired try a very thin coat of tint base.
- The process relies on the oil based ink taking longer to dry then the Tar Gel. I have waited a couple days to lift a print and been fine since while drying the Tar Gel protects the ink from drying.
- Sometimes the Tar Gel dries too fast, or is a little too thick and cracks will appear in the surface when dry. This isn’t a big problem. Just card across some Tar Gel to fill the cracks and let it dry. Lift as usual.
- In general the thinner the tar Gel the more stretchy it is for gluing on a form.
The smooth side of the print will stick to glass for indefinite periods of time.
- The water based Tar Gel can react with copper turning the dry acrylic slightly blue. To avoid this patina, generously spray clear acrylic after the relief roll step. Either matte or gloss work depending on the desired surface of the print.
Akua and Tar Gel Etching
It is possible to use Akua for Tar Gel etching. Ink up as normal for a Tar Gel etching. You need to be extra careful when coating the plate with Tar Gel as it will blend with the Akua. Once coated you need to increase drying time before lifting the print. Generally leave the drying plates with Tar Gel an extra day before pulling the print. The print itself will also take extra time to dry before the Akua will not come off on your hands.