The Bubbled Plastic Print: A New Approach to Printmaking

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<ul><li><p>Leonardo</p><p>The Bubbled Plastic Print: A New Approach to PrintmakingAuthor(s): Su LiehsiSource: Leonardo, Vol. 21, No. 4 (1988), pp. 425-428Published by: The MIT PressStable URL: .Accessed: 16/06/2014 16:35</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact</p><p> .</p><p>The MIT Press and Leonardo are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access toLeonardo.</p><p> </p><p>This content downloaded from on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:35:21 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>The Bubbled Plastic Print: </p><p>A New Approach to Printmaking </p><p>Su Liehsi </p><p>Abstract-The bubbled plastic print is a new form of printmaking that has appeared in China in recent years. The author and inventor of this art form introduces its artistic characteristics as well as the materials and tools involved in its making. The techniques discussed can be useful to artists engaged in the field of printmaking. </p><p>4.-'- </p><p>Fig. 1. Chen Jongchin, Long, LongAgo, 53 x 23 cm, 1986. The block was prepared by cutting, nipping and scratching. It was then spread with colored printing inks and printed on non-absorbent art paper. </p><p>I. INTRODUCTION </p><p>Since its invention, the art of printing has developed a great variety of forms. This is due to the diversification of the material and to the introduction of new techniques. The 'bubbled plastic print', which was created by artists in Shangrao City, Jiangxi province, is a new form of printmaking that has been developed in China in recent years. </p><p>For its block, the bubbled plastic print uses 'bubbled plastic paper', which is a type of modern decorative material used in advertisements, plates and signs. Although bubbled plastic paper possesses the quality of ordinary paper, its </p><p>Su Liehsi (artist), Shangrao Cultural Center, 4 Wushan Ave, Shangrao, Jiangxi Province, China. </p><p>Manuscript solicited by Shao Dazhen. Received 22 July 1987. </p><p>components still fall into the scope of plastic products. In order to distinguish bubbled plastic paper from ordinary paper, we call the block made of this special type of paper 'bubbled plastic block' and the prints thereby produced 'bubbled plastic prints'. </p><p>Immediately after the bubbled plastic print was developed, it aroused great interest among art circles both in China and abroad. Hua Junwu, vice-chairman of the Chinese Artists' Association, referred to it as an invention in art. Li Pingfan, vice-chairman of the Chinese Graphic Artists' Association, declared: "The bubbled plastic print is a break- through in the field of printmaking. It has considerably facilitated the develop- ment of new forms." </p><p>By boldly using bubbled plastic paper in conjunction with new techniques, artists have succeeded in producing a special texture not found in other print </p><p>forms. Bubbled plastic prints also give full play to the artist's spontaneity. After seeing some bubbled plastic prints, Mr. Liuhon, a Japanese expert in graphic art, said in excitement: "No other form of graphic art can exert such artistic charm." </p><p>II. MATERIALS AND TOOLS </p><p>Bubbled Plastic Paper </p><p>Since bubbled plastic paper is soft, it is easy to cut. There are two kinds of bubbled plastic paper: the single-layered and the double-layered. Experiments with double-layered paper show that it is better to use the sides that originally were stuck together. </p><p>Hard-Pointed Cutting Tools </p><p>Pens, pencils and ballpoint pens have the advantage of not tearing the paper. To achieve a variety of effects, one may </p><p>? 1988 ISAST Pergamon Press pic. Printed in Great Britain. 0024-094X/88 $3.00+0.00 </p><p>LEONARDO, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 425-428,1988 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:35:21 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>also use cutting tools of all shapes and sizes made of wood or bamboo (Fig. 1). </p><p>Printing Paper </p><p>For water printing, one can use various water-absorbing papers, such as China's Xuanzhi paper, Korean paper or filtering paper. For oil printing, one should use paper that has a smooth surface and does not absorb water. </p><p>Colors </p><p>The various condensed and tubed paints used in advertisements (these are generally powdery, sticky and soluble in water) and watercolors can be used in water printing. Various printing inks can be used in oil printing. </p><p>Printing Base </p><p>Any plate bigger than the block can be used as the printing base. The same plate can be used for different blocks. </p><p>Water-Printing Tools </p><p>The tools needed for water printing include a towel, a household sprinkler, clean water, paste, some drawing pins, a number of middle- and small-sized oil painting brushes and writing brushes, a </p><p>solid cloth roll 15 cm in width and 5 cm in diameter, and newspaper. </p><p>Oil-Printing Tools </p><p>For oil printing, one needs a number of large-, middle- and small-sized printing rolls, some middle- and small-sized oil- painting brushes, gasoline, kerosene, paste and a cloth roll. </p><p>III. PREPARING THE BLOCKS </p><p>Before cutting the paper, rub its surface back and forth with a dry towel until the surface has lost its shine. This will ensure that the watercolors can be absorbed evenly. Then cut the bubbled plastic paper into a piece the same size as the drawing. (If registering is involved, cut out several pieces.) </p><p>Use carbon paper to print the outline of the drawing onto the cutout piece (or pieces) of rubbed bubbled plastic paper and then begin cutting the block. If the reverse side of the drawing is the same as the front, the artist may also draw the picture directly on the bubbled plastic paper with writing brushes. </p><p>When cutting the block with hard- pointed pens, first cut out the outline and then the details, according to the design. Lines may vary from long to short, from curved to straight. All the lines that appear in the sketch can be cut into the </p><p>I k ~. U 1. </p><p>Fig. 2. Zhen Jinming, ExLibris, 11 x 9 cm, 1986. The desired figure was first cut on bubbled plastic paper about the size of the finished picture. The bubbled plastic paper was then rubbed, spread with </p><p>poster colors and water-printed on filtering paper. </p><p>block, if the point and sides of the cutting tools are used together, as is done in Chinese water-ink drawing. For special effects, the artist may use hard-pointed cutting tools of all sizes and shapes to produce traces (i.e. marks made by pressing) the same way as one applies a seal (Fig. 2). </p><p>When preparing the block, the artist can do controlled handwork to bring about unexpected textures (Figs 3, 4). The main techniques are outlined as follows: </p><p>Nipping and Scratching </p><p>Nipping and scratching on the block leave a network of cracks, which will produce textures similar to those of rocks, grass, twigs, wrinkled skin, etc. The cracks will vary according to the extent of the nipping and scratching. </p><p>Rubbing </p><p>Hand-rubbing in limited areas leaves rich and delicately interwoven cracks. To do this, cut out the areas to be rubbed and fit them back into the block after rubbing. </p><p>Rolling </p><p>Bubbled plastic paper may be regarded as either horizontal or vertical with respect to its strength. Roll and press the block in the vertical direction and it will present a large number of roughly parallel cracks, which in turn will produce fine textures similar to veins in wood. Rolling and pressing in the horizontal direction will leave a network of wavelike cracks, which will produce textures similar to the gentle flow of water. </p><p>Folding </p><p>Folding the block adds a decorative touch, especially in regard to stamping designs on clothes. It is often amazing to see how much is achieved with so little effort. </p><p>IV. PRINTING REQUIREMENTS </p><p>Water Printing To fix the block, put a small amount of </p><p>paste on the back of the prepared block and stick it on a plate. Cover the block with a piece of printing paper that is a few centimeters longer and wider than the block. Wet the paper with a household sprinkler and smooth it out. Then along one side of the paper put a slip of bubbled </p><p>Su Liehsi, Bubbled Plastic Print 426 </p><p>*'';|l *-s_- ,_,, </p><p>&gt; j .__ }_ ^,t </p><p>. ,i. ;'- W -.. </p><p>:.." w_f-t.Pi: #Ps e|ws,,_,msg. . </p><p>This content downloaded from on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:35:21 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>plastic paper 2 cm in width and fix it with drawing pins. Finally, pull the paper off the block toward the fixed side. Wait until the small puddles of water have dis- appeared before starting the printing. </p><p>After applying the paints to the block with oil-painting brushes or writing brushes, place the paper back on the block. Then use newspaper to cover the areas that are to be printed. Next, move the cloth roll evenly over the surface. The paints on the block will be printed onto the picture. When printing, do not put too much water into the paint or press too hard on the cloth roll. To maintain the textures of the block, clean the block after each print is made. In registering, one has only to fit the second block onto the first (Fig. 5). </p><p>Oil Printing </p><p>The method of fixing the block for oil printing is the same as in water printing. The diluted printing ink should be applied thinly rather than thickly. When applying colors to the block, choose different printing rolls or oil-painting brushes according to the sizes of the color patches. Move the cloth roll repeatedly until the ideal effect has been achieved. Do not press too hard. When the printing is finished, the printing ink left on the block must be cleaned off immediately with gasoline. If registering is involved, put some drying oil into the diluted printing ink and clean the block after each print is made. There is no difference between oil printing and water printing with respect to registering. </p><p>Multiple Uses of One Block </p><p>The bubbled plastic block is soft and elastic, which makes it possible to produce a variety of effects by varying the pressure exerted on the cloth roll. This method, if employed properly, will produce delicate and subtle changes in the colors. </p><p>Preservation of the Block </p><p>After a number of prints have been made, pull the cleaned block off the plate and put it into a paper bag. Then write down the title of the work before storing the block in a box specially made for this purpose. </p><p>The technique of the bubbled plastic print has become widespread in China. We hope that it will appeal to the interest of the general public as well as graphic arts circles in other countries and thereby be developed further. </p><p>EK4 3RInS * . ---jrps i 19tsS . </p><p>Fig. 3. Su Liehsi, ExLibris, 9 x 8 cm, 1986. The desired figure was first cut on bubbled plastic paper about the size of the finished picture. The bubbled plastic paper was rolled and folded, then spread </p><p>with poster colors and water-printed on Korean paper. </p><p>Fig. 4. Chen Jinnan, Ex Librs, 9 x 8 cm, 1986. The desired figure was cut on bubbled plastic paper about the size of the final picture. The bubbled plastic paper was rolled, nipped and scratched, then </p><p>spread with condensed paints and water-printed on filtering paper. </p><p>Su Liehsi, Bubbled Plastic Print 427 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:35:21 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>~~IIbl~ </p><p>rIp, </p><p>Fig. 5. Su Liehsi, A Region ofRivers andLakes, 52 x 36 cm, 1985. The outlines were first cut with hard pointed pens on bubbled plastic paper about the same size as the picture. The rolled plastic paper was then cut into bar-like pieces, the desired forms stuck on and the image water-printed on Chinese Xuanzhi paper </p><p>with poster colors. </p><p>Su Liehsi, Bubbled Plastic Print </p><p>l </p><p>428 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:35:21 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p><p>Article Contentsp. [425]p. 426p. 427p. 428</p><p>Issue Table of ContentsLeonardo, Vol. 21, No. 4 (1988), pp. 341-470Front Matter [pp. 360 - 468]Editorial: The Arts and Science and Technology: Problems and Prospects [pp. 341 - 342]Artists' ArticlesSculpting with Computer Graphics: An Approach to the Design and Fabrication of Abstract Sculpture [pp. 343 - 350]Drawing Conclusions: A Syntactic Approach toward Understanding Reality [pp. 351 - 359]</p><p>Artists' NotesArt and Context: A Personal View [pp. 361 - 366]Language as Still Life: From Video to Painting [pp. 367 - 370]OK Research, OK Genetic Engineering, Bad Information: Information Art Describes Technology [pp. 371 - 375]</p><p>Sound, Music, Science and TechnologyWilderness as Reentrant Form: Thoughts on the Future of Electronic Art and Nature [pp. 377 - 382]The Fire of "Prometheus": Music-Kinetic Art Experiments in the USSR [pp. 383 - 396]Instruments to Perform Color-Music: Two Centuries of Technological Experimentation [pp. 397 - 406]</p><p>Skinner on Creativity: A Critical Commentary [pp. 407 - 412]Half-Brained Ideas about Education: Thinking and Learning with Both the Left and Right Brain in a Visual Culture [pp. 413 - 419]General NoteThe Game-as-Art Form: Historic Roots and Recent Trends [pp. 421 - 423]</p><p>Technical NoteThe Bubbled Plastic Print: A New Approach to Printmaking [pp. 425 - 428]</p><p>Historical Perspectives on the Arts, Sciences and TechnologyAn Apparent Conflict between Art and Science: The Case of Aleksandr Porfir'evich Borodin (1833-1887) [pp. 429 - 436]</p><p>Theoretical Perspectives on the Arts, Sciences and TechnologyThe Anatomy of Painting Style: Description with Computer Rules [pp. 437 - 444]A Rule System for Analysis in the Visual Arts [pp. 445 - 452]</p><p>Art/Science ForumModern Organic Materials Meeting [p. 453]Computational Musicology in Italy [pp. 454 - 456]</p><p>Current LiteratureBooks Received [p. 465]Publications [pp. 465 - 467]</p><p>Book Reviewsuntitled [pp. 457 - 458]untitled [p. 458]untitled [pp. 458 - 459]untitled [pp. 459 - 460]untitled [p. 460]untitled [pp. 460 - 461]untitled [pp. 461 - 462]untitled [p. 462]untitled [pp. 462 - 463]untitled [p. 463]Comment by Shao Dazhen, Editor of Art [pp. 463 - 464]</p><p>Short Reviewsuntitled [p. 464]untitled [p. 464]untitled [p. 464]untitled [p. 464]untitled [p. 464]untitled [p. 464]untitled [pp. 464 - 465]</p><p>CommentariesComment on Artists' Rights [p. 469]Comments on "Touching the Sky" [pp. 469 - 470]Comments on "Fractal Images" [p. 470]</p><p>Back Matter</p></li></ul>