I recently took a one-evening workshop in printmaking without a press. I’ve had some experience with traditional printmaking processes like engraving, etching, relief printing, lithography, etc. This was a chance to have some fun with a technique that is not quite so exacting and does not require a lot of expensive equipment. In fact the “plate” that we used was styrofoam -- the kind you get with your ground beef at the supermarket.
We started by doing a drawing and transferring it onto the styrofoam, simply by tracing the lines through the paper with a pointed instrument. You can use whatever tool you want, and the instructor had a variety of styluses available. Since the styrofoam is soft enough to carve away easily, this becomes a subtractive process and we were also encouraged to cut and remove sections of the plate before each color was applied.
The ghost images with a 4th color, (black) added. This was not very successful because the registration was off slightly.
We used high-quality printmaker’s inks which were rolled smoothly and evenly with a brayer. After rolling the ink onto the plate, we brought it to a table that had a sheet of our paper ready to go. (There is no need to wet and blot the paper for this technique). We placed the plate on top of the paper, positioning it where we had drawn lines for registration and centering the image. We then flipped over plate and paper and rubbed the back of the paper with large wooden spoons -- very lo-tech. As this process of drawing, carving, cutting away and inking was repeated with each of the succeeding colors, the image grew richer and more complex, and the results were always unpredictable. We each used 3 or 4 colors. We also printed a second “ghost” image of each color on a separate piece of paper without re-inking, just as a contrast. Some combined their ghost images with primary images.