How to Make an easy Mono-Print or Trace Mono-Type

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This easy exercise will take about 15 minutes preparation and 30 minutes in execution but the results will be well worth it.  Oh, if forgot, you may need 10 minutes or so to clean up.

You will need:

  • 2 pieces of good quality paper, whatever size you choose. It is probably best to do a practice run first.
  • A piece of craft paper or soft cardboard to suit the paper size.
  • A flat piece of plastic board (not too thin) to suit the paper size or larger.  I purchased one at a junk shop.
  • A clean piece of board, Masonite or similar.  Artists boards are available at art or hardware shops at a reasonable price or you may have one around the house.
  • A brayer or roller suitable for mono-printing.  I purchased one cheaply from an art shop.
  • A jar of mono printing ink, choose your own colour, black is the most popular.  Inks are available at art shops.
  • An old plastic teaspoon.
  • Clean rags, gloves, mask (optional.)

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Firstly, place small amounts of the mono-printing ink here and there on the board with a plastic teaspoon.  Take no notice of the text written on my board, it won’t come off!

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Next, roll the ink onto the board until it coats thinly.  If the ink coats too thickly the mono-print will have to be done several times to get a good print which can be fun.  Thick ink will produce blobs of ink here and there.  This is my ink-coated plate.

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Next, I placed an item of clothing on to the plate.  You can use anything you like, string, rubber gloves, the sole of an old shoe, a piece of old mesh, anything that has grooves to make a textured mark.

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Then I placed the sheet of  craft paper down over the play suit and rubbed the paper over firmly and evenly so as to gently press the play suit against the ink.  Allow the work to rest while you prepare another piece of paper by laying it onto either a table (not in the dining room!) or a clean artists’ board.  This is in readiness for the ink-soaked item to be placed on the clean page.

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Once I had evenly and firmly pressed the entire top sheet of paper I removed it to again reveal the item of clothing.  Gently and carefully I lifted the play suit off the plate and placed it face down on to the clean sheet of paper I had earlier prepared on the board.

I then placed an old piece of craft paper on top and rubbed the work over again as previously.

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I then gently rolled it over with the rolling pin to get an even print.

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Then this was the exciting part, I lifted the craft paper off and then lifted the play suit off the plate to reveal what was underneath.

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I ended up with a lovely print and you can see the complete image at the top of the page.

Here are some pictures of other mono-prints done in my days at art school using junk I found from a recycling shop.  I used the same method as above and later went in with some watercolours when the ink was dry.

Good luck with your mono prints but a word of warning, this process is addictive because of its unpredictability and the amazing, surprising effects you can get.

After Kandinsky Arbeiter Communication Breakdown


What is a Photo Transfer?


The subtle lovely image above looks just like a drawing!  It is in fact, a photo transfer.  Here I will show you how in this easy exercise which takes about 15 minutes.   You will need to prepare first by making a colour photocopy image to work from (I did mine at the local library.)  Photos of relatives, babies and children work really well with this process and with a frame around they look fantastic for a bedroom or wherever.

You will need:

  • A coloured photocopy of a subject you like.
  • A small bottle of Acetone (available from the hardware store)
  • Good quality artists paper (I used cartridge paper)
  • Clean rags
  • Rubber gloves
  • a 6B pencil or similar
  • an artists’ board or firm piece of cardboard to work on.  (I used a resin plate I had for mono printing.)

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As I was working on  a childhood theme at the time, I decided to use this colourful romper suit to work from.  My mother had made one of these suits for me from an Enid Gilchrist pattern book when I was a child.  Working on this created wonderful memories of play, freedom, adventure, sunshine, climbing, playing, freedom and fun.

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Firstly, I cut the cartridge paper to fit the photocopy (in this case A4)  and placed the romper suit image on the board face up.   Make sure the board is clean of dust and debris.  Next I placed a white piece of cartridge paper on top of the play suit image.

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Next I wet a clean rag with the acetone and rubbed it over the top piece of cartridge paper where the image would have been underneath. I could see the shape of the image underneath as I was doing this

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Next I went over the top page with a 6b graphite pencil held horizontally so as not to tear  it.  I pressed firmly and carefully at this stage making sure to cover the entire area where the image would be.  The wet top page dries off quickly so there should be no problems at this stage.

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Next I peeled the acetone soaked top page off to reveal a beautiful shimmering image of the romper suit complete with subtle shadows.

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I then decided to take the work further by cutting around the original image with Photoshop to isolate the play suit (below right.)

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The image on the left was what I came up with.  I preferred the first attempt myself although if you are a “neat freak” this process may appeal to you. Voila!  This was so easy I am going to do some photo transfers of children and give them as gifts for Christmas.

For more on Enid Gilchrist diy patterns and rompersuits see

Clean Your Paintbrushes – Secrets From a Brush Recycler

This post is meant mainly for artists but could apply to other creatives such as writers, photographers or potters.  In fact, it applies to anyone who uses materials to create.

As a novice, I seemed to be eternally buying paintbrushes.  One day it dawned on me that perhaps I could save myself some money by making sure they were really clean after I used them and perhaps they would last longer.  And guess what, it worked!  I keep my brushes for much longer now and I have brass in pocket to boot.  I urge you to realize that your materials have energy and an intelligent life of their own.  They contribute greatly to your craft so love and respect them and they will do likewise for you.

Here are some tips to help you do the same.

Nylon brushes are best to use for watercolour, gouache, tempera and acrylic.  To clean them, firstly, use warm water and pour a little dish washing liquid into the palm of your hand.  Swirl the wet brush around in the soap right down to the base of the bristles (called the ferrule).  Rinse the brush off in clean warm water under the tap and dry off to a nice point. If you do this your brushes will last for ages!  I urge you to now lay them out in your organized studio ready for the next day.

Next post I will show how to clean oil brushes, now that is a little more complicated!

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