Category Archives: Aluminium

Aluminium is soft and smooth, and easy to get hold of. These properties make it perfect for a range of plate making techniques.

Aluminium tape plate by Kate Tidmarsh

“Aluminium Tape” prints from readers, inspired by posts on the Curious printmaker blog

An important reason for writing this blog is to encourage people to have a go and experiment with printmaking, so it is great when readers get back to me with information about what they have done as a result of seeing a particular post.

I was delighted to receive an email from Angela Harpham with examples of plates made by the Joint Practice Group, as Sinclair Ashman and Kate Tidmarsh had already posted about their aluminium tape plates on Instagram (see below), and Handprinted had added the technique to their website, I realised there were quite a few people playing around with this technique in the seclusion of their own studios. It seemed like a good idea to bring it all together…

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kitchen foil plate with prints

Kitchen foil printing plates

My previous posts about making plates with aluminium tape were very popular, and quite a few people have been experimenting with this technique as well as using it in community workshops.

One of these experimenters is Kate, who thoroughly tests all my instructions to destruction, (thanks Kate). She has devised another clever aluminium foil technique that I want to share with you.

This one is great for children and community workshops, very cheap and you will probably already have what you need to do it, so no extra trips to B&Q are needed for this one.

Here is the ultimate foil plate budget version!

Open out a cardboard cereal box and cut some flat pieces.

spray glue on a piece of card

spray glue on a piece of card

Spray the card evenly with spraymount glue.

I know spraymount can be a bit pricy, but that’s the main investment here.

If you discover an alternative glue that works for this please let me know.

lay kitchen foil onto the gluey card

lay kitchen foil onto the gluey card

Gently lay a piece of kitchen foil on the gluey card and press it down smoothly all over.

Trim the edges of your plate

Trim the edges of your plate

Ideally run it through the press to make sure it is all well stuck down, then trim the edges of the card so no foil hangs over.

Make sure your knife is sharp or it can drag and tear the foil.

This is your basic foil plate; the advantage over a plate made from self adhesive aluminium tape is that the foil is wide enough to cover the whole plate evenly with no edge lines.

Background texture

glue texture shows under the kitchen foil

glue texture shows under the kitchen foil

I used cheap spraymount and this left little lumps on the card, when I printed it these made a background texture.

I thought it looked quite nice actually, but if you want a smoother plate try using a good quality spraymount and make sure the nozzle is clean so the spray is fine and even.

Kate’s were nice and smooth – probably due to posh spraymount.

Kitchen foil – thick or thin?

Kitchen foil comes in different thicknesses, the cheapest foil works, however it is very thin and tears quite easily. Thicker foil is easier to handle, just take care it doesn’t t have a pattern embossed on it – some has little diamonds.

Here are some things to try with your kitchen foil plates

Wrinkles are great

You may get accidental wrinkles, why not create more on purpose – embrace the wrinkles! Crumple the kitchen foil loosely before sticking it down. The press will squash the wrinkles into interesting organic patterns.

Take care not to have flappy ridges of foil though, as the ink can get trapped under these and splurge out in the press. If your wrinkles get too deep use a sharp craft knife to cut off any folds that are not properly fixed down.

Create Contours

layers of card to create a design

layers of card to create a design

Try building up a contoured surface on your plate before sticking the foil down; in this example I glued down several layers of card, then sprayed it all with glue before laying wrinkly foil on it.

wrinkled kitchen foil stuck on the plate

wrinkled kitchen foil stuck on the plate

Run the plate through the press before printing to squash the foil into the contours.

If you don’t have a press just press the foil down well – one way is to cover the plate with a blanket and jump on it!

a relief print from the card and foil plate

a relief print from the card and foil plate

This example is printed in relief – ink is simply rolled over it, picking up the raised areas and textures of the plate.

Relief prints can be printed without a press; roll ink on the plate, lay a thin piece of paper over it, then roll over the back with a clean roller to transfer the ink to the paper.

Drawing into the printing plate

a print from a foil plate made with biro lines

a print from a foil plate made with biro lines

If you draw into your plate with a biro, pressing quite firmly, the indentations will hold ink and show as dark lines when printed as intaglio, or white lines if you roll over the plate as a relief print.

You should be able to take several prints from the plate before the detail gets too squashed by the press. On this example the dark areas are made with carborundum paint.

drawing with a needle can tear the foil

drawing with a needle can tear the foil

Biros are good because the end is smooth and round so it won’t tear the foil. Here is an example of lines drawn with a needle – it caught and tore the foil. Quite an interesting effect?

Cut through the kitchen foil

a sample kitchen foil plate with lines and tone

a sample kitchen foil plate with lines and tone

If you are feeling flush, use off cuts of mount board as a base; this is more substantial than packaging card. Score into the surface of the plate with a craft knife and remove patches of foil to create darker areas in your print. This works because the card has a rough texture and will hold more ink.

I made the lines on this plate with different tools to test out the effects.

Press textures in to the kitchen foil plate

twig and sandpaper ready for embossing into foil

twig and sandpaper ready for embossing into foil

If you lay textures that are flat and fairly hard onto the foil plate, then run it through the press the textures will leave marks in the plate. These will show when you print it.

Here the dried plant is laid down first with coarse sandpaper on top of it.

On the plate the plant will appear in front of the sandpaper texture.

For more foil embossing ideas please see this post.

a print from the twig and sandpaper plate

a print from the twig and sandpaper plate

No press? No ink? Why not make a rubbing?

It is fun to make a rubbing from your plate; lay a thin sheet of paper over it and rub with the flat side of a wax crayon. This will reveal the contours and texture of the plate.

A rubbing will give you a new way of looking at your plate, so if you are feeling a bit stuck with the design, take a rubbing and it may help you decide what to do next.

Your rubbings may be the end result on their own. Using good quality wax crayons (eg Neo colour) in different colours you can build up lovely images from your plates.

embossed printing plate made from wire mesh

Embossed Aluminium Printing Plates

Aluminium tape is such a wonderfully versatile material for printing plates. The previous post described making plates with raised textures by encapsulating things underneath the tape. This one explains how to make embossed plates by pressing textures into the tape.

Embossed plate made with wire mesh

Embossed plate made with wire mesh

The soft aluminium surface will take beautiful Continue reading

Ginkgo sequence

Printing Plates from Aluminium Tape

When I first discovered aluminium tape I thought it would be useful, I soon realised that it is indispensable!

This post is for all tape fanatics  – if you haven’t used aluminium tape yet, you are in for a treat.

Aluminium tape has a lot of potential, so to start with Continue reading