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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Knox

How I Do it: Multi-plate printing

I have been away at various shows and I spend a LOT of time explaining the process of obtaining different colours in my work. Many of you had a go at printmaking at school but normally that would be just the one colour. Let me explain!


I have always favoured the reduction method but recently have turned to the multi-plate technique which I will explain here.


This is a print called 'Finch Feast' and the seven colours are created using three carved plates.


They don't look very pretty but, they are transformed by the application of the inks.






The plates look dirty from previous

use and the images are hard to decipher.


Inking the plates makes it all more obvious!




Plate One



I use two different rollers to apply yellow and red ink to specific areas of the plate.



I use a cloth to wipe away any areas I have inadvertently inked.






I then place the paper on top of the plate and apply pressure to transfer the ink onto the paper.


I have used a wooden spoon, a paper weight or my hand but now I do own a lovely printing press.





Layer two applies a darker yellow, a bronze and blue with an extender added. This makes the blue more translucent - for reasons I will explain shortly!







Here is how Plate 2 looks if printed alone onto a sheet of paper.


Of course I want to print it exactly over layer one and for that I am required to Register the lino and paper exactly.


Though the joy of lino is the slightly 'off' layers - says me who is an expert at creating poorly registered prints!


My registration device is home made

This wooden board is the business. The outer edges are glued at exact right angles. Then I have various pieces of wood representing various border sizes.


The lino is tightly placed into the inner corners. The paper is tightly placed into the outer corners.









This keeps lino and paper aligned precisely for each layer - unless you don't push everything in sufficiently tightly!










Translucent Blue




Layer 2 over Layer 1 is a case of 2+2=5 as the translucent blue over the yellow reveals the green stem of the sunflower plant.







Sometimes it takes a few attempts to get the colour choices correct. This was a trial on the journey.


You can see the stalk is too dark









This is known as the key plate, it is the most distinguishable of the three and will bring the whole image together.


It was the first plate I carved, I designed the others around this.







The Complete Print


The key block links all the shapes together creating a comprehensive image.


I hope you like it!




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