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  • Writer's pictureChiara

Taking stock

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Having my group tutorial so early in the term threw me very quickly into a consideration of options for print-based media for this project. It was clear that the effect of my monoprints were stronger than the linoprint, both in my own evaluation and in the response from my peers.

Some thoughts

  • For me the direct handprints seem to bear the identity of the subject in a way that other methods cannot. There is an individual quality to a handprint (forensic--as seen in the uses made of fingerprints in criminal investigations).

  • At the same time a handprint shows more of the person than the simple identifying details of a fingerprint alone.

  • Using the hand carries the possibility of gesture.

  • Although the handprint is unique to the individual, the actual identity of the subject is not readily apparent to the viewer, thus making the image simultaneously identity-defining and apparently anonymous.

  • This paradox parallels the competing impulses to reveal and conceal aspects of personal trauma experienced in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Apart from the monoprints, there are a number of possibilities which maintain a close (linear) relationship between the hand-gesture and the final image:

Photographs and Scans

  • I have a love-hate relationship with photography.

  • The medium captures an image of reality like no other. It has been the epitome of documentation since early in its history.

  • The process of self-portraiture is a mix of emotions for me--there is a vulnerable sense of exposure and at the same time a sense of agency/empowerment in having control of the image

  • I crave the materiality/tactile impact of ink embedded into or sitting above the surface of the paper which adds to the affective impact of the work, whereas digital prints have a smoother, more even surface quality

  • moving from photography to to photographic etching or screenprinting brings the limitation of half-tone or dithered images and the loss of continuous variation in tone.

  • I tried some scans early in the term. There are interesting effects with the pressure of the glass against the skin and the blurred background--a sense of entrapment.

  • There is a loss of detail in elements that are further from the scanner glass

  • The same limitations of surface qualities as digital photography apply


  • I can record the imprint of the hand-gesture with glue or glue and grit (carborundum)

  • this trial plate is made with glue on strawboard.

  • The marks recorded are quite subtle

  • The texture of the strawboard itself imparts a tone to the print

  • glue and carborundum grit on board, which I also tried holds a lot of ink and prints texture strongly, but is difficult to wipe and control.

  • An interesting medium to explore, but lacks the versatility of some of the other options available

  • Advantages for future exploration (perhaps in a home or community setting) is that materials are readily available and non-toxic.


  • I tried making a gum arabic stencil on the stone with a concoction of liquid ground (asphaltum and thinners) and ink.

  • This is a photoshop mock-up of the sort of thing I was trying to achieve (based on my monoprint trials)

  • getting the right consistency of gum to hold details was an issue

  • also etching the rich black was difficult

  • I attempted a black on white image using vegetable oil on my skin as a stencil.

  • Again detail and etching where difficult

  • I couldn't get a reliable image with the vegetable oil

  • Using litho ink on my skin should achieve better results but following my experiments with litho ink monoprints, it isn't something I would like to ask volunteer participants to do.

  • As I considered the project further through the making process, I realised that having a great number of images to portray the variations in responses to trauma/political expression day by day and person to person was a significant part of my concept. The process of producing each image on the stone takes a couple of days. I can make additions and deletions to the image, but using only one stone I would need to grain off each image before starting a new one, which leaves no opportunity to revise or combine images at a later date.


  • This became my medium of choice for the remainder of the project

  • different approaches to the plate--using soft ground, sugar lift or acrylic resist give a variety of effects

  • the materiality of the printed intaglio image with the ink embedded in the paper brings affective qualities that I'm looking for

  • any number of plates can be made, modified and saved for later printing in different ways or combinations

  • a variety of inks and papers can be used to produce different effects

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