Capture the original idea

When I see something that has the right aura of desirability about it, I make a mental note, usually one or two words to assist memory. I start by making thumbnail sketches to work out the composition, then I make a maquette of the image as I want it to look when translated to beads. I use one of several media -- watercolor, oil or water-soluble crayons, or monotype.

Most of the recent pieces come from monotypes made using a 2 step technique -- first an image in bright colors to get fully saturated hues, then a layer of dark ink that adjusts the values to make the light areas lighter and the dark areas darker.

Here is the process, step by step.

  1. I make a pencil drawing showing hard edges and indicating the approximate positions of variable things like shadow edges, clouds or foliage. I make registration marks to indicate the placement of the print on the paper. orignal pencil drawing

  2. If it's important for the finished print not to be a mirror image of the drawing, it's reversed left to right, usually by tracing the drawing on the back of the sheet. reversed pencil drawing

  3. The pencil drawing is taped to the shiny side of a sheet of frosted acetate. I make a watercolor drawing on the matte side and allow it to dry. watercolor drawing

  4. Meanwhile rag paper, in this case white Stonehenge, has been soaking in a tray of water. It is blotted to remove the surface water and placed on the acetate film, lining up the registration marks. The acetate film and the dampened paper are run through a press together , transferring most of the watercolor pigment to the paper. printed watercolor

  5. The pencil drawing is taped to the underside of a sheet of Plexiglas®. The print is wrapped in plastic sheet to keep the paper damp while the next layer of ink is rolled out on the Plexiglas®. This is an oil-based lithography or relief-printing ink.
  6. I remove ink from the light areas with a paintbrush or rags. Solvents could be used for this step, too, but can be more difficult to control. oil based ink drawing

  7. I lay down the paper on the Plexiglas®, lining up the registration marks, and the whole sandwich goes through the press again. finished print

  8. The print is allowed to dry tacked to a bulletin board to keep the paper from warping.

Next: Translate the idea: Computer

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Laura Willits
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Page created 3 July 2000. Last modified on: Tuesday, May 20, 2003. 12 September 2000 at 10:12 AM.