Through glass darkly

by maggie

I don’t have any pictures of the flats I briefly stayed in during 2008 because my hard drive died. I do have sketches though and thought that they might make a good window print. I was feeling particularly disconnected at the time and looking out from this cool grey room at the verdant spring growth summed up a lot of things.

I haven’t included the sketches here because there doesn’t seem much point – they are mainly there for proportions and relations between elements. Colour and light was for another state.

Working backwards from where I am in the process we have this image.


These are print outs from a scan that have been manipulated to get the complete image

The image is made from two plates. One, the interior, is collograph made from laying down various tapes. The other is, the park beyond is acrylic medium and carborundum. I chose the various tapes for the grade of tone they would leave.

This first image is a collage of two images rather than the complete print from two plates because it went a bit wrong. I printed the two plates separately as a test first.


Oops! why is the glass the darkest part of the image?


is it a cloud of pollen I see or has something gone wrong with he plate making process?

The idea was to print the tree first and then the interior over the top. But with so much plate tone would you have been able to see anything. If I had access to photoshop I could probably layer the two impression together to get an better idea of the finished product than the cut and paste job of the first image.

So what went wrong. Basically there was’t enough varnish. The tapes in the black plate pick up ink, but so does the card they were stuck on. The ‘glass’ areas would be much darker if I had inked them up as i did the rest of the plate. Also I think i need a shorter ink to stick in the  thicknesses of the tapes. (that’s how the fence at the bottom is supposed to work – rather than the picket fence vibe it’s giving off now.

I made the green plate by painting on acrylic medium in the designated areas. ( you’ll see on the plates I have drawn all the important parts of the image in.) Then I sprinkled, drizzled, on fine carborundum powder. Using a tine plastic bag with a corner cut off. If I had wanted more brush stroke effects I could have mixed the medium and the powder together. The green plate tone is restricted to the areas of ink applications. I think the tone here is a mixture of too little varnish and escaped carborundum grit. The varnish is used to seal porous surfaces. You can see where I painted it on in the pale area on the stripy blind and the column between the windows.

Here to finish off are the two plates. I’ve carefully added another layer of button polish. Hopefully this will be enough and next week I will have a properly registered two plate print.


I transferred the main element of the image so I knew which ares to mask out when I applied the medium.


Oh look favourite tapes and stickers in use again. There’s meant to be a fish pull on the blind but that’s not working so well (either). 

Next week more windows? Bears in profile…

Check out the Categories list at the bottom of the page.for more thoughts on ‘windows’.


ps. prints available on request for those would can name the park out the window.