Printing with a Pasta Machine

My recent interest in stamps and printing stuff led me to discover that you can use a pasta machine for printing. Well, I had to try that!

I picked up a machine on sale. It was cheap because it had no box. I knew I would have to make some adjustments, so I certainly didn’t want to buy a full price one. The problem is that pasta flexes, but printing plates don’t. Putting a plate through a machine has this problem:

The plate is going to encounter the base and go no further. Some unscrewing and rescrewing later:

Base removed. Next I got Paul to make a new base that would allow me to clamp the machine to the edge of the table:

I cut a piece of felt from some whacky cleaning product my parents had got themselves sucked in by, and Paul suggested a type of thin and stiff sheet plastic I could try using as a printing plate.

First I tried a very simple method. You ink the plate, put a flat object or stencil on it, then run it through the machine with some damp paper.

I cut a stencil from some thin plastic. The print on the top left is the result. Unfortunately, the dampness of the paper caused the ink to bleed. Maybe because I used watercolour paper. Then I tried running the inked side of the stencil through (top right), then the plate with the stencils removed (bottom left). The ink had reacted in an interesting way to the water in the paper. So I then tried the cut outs from the stencil with acrylic paint (bottom right).

Next I tried scratching into a piece of the plastic I was using as a plate, using a scratchboard tool.

I rolled in on and ran it through, and got a relief effect (I think that’s the term). Then I wiped the ink off to try and get an intaglio effect (the ink caught in the scratches prints).

But it was too easy to wipe the ink out of the scratches. Figuring the scratchboard tool didn’t make deep enough lines, I tried using my linocut carving tools to enlarge them. But that only made it easier to wipe the ink out.

So instead of wiping off the ink, I scraped it off with a scrap of plastic. This worked better, though it leaves a lot of ink/paint behind. I kind of like it, though.

I had lots of fun experimenting. Next I want to try collagraph printing. This is where you make a plate by gluing things to a card then varnishing it. I’ve made a little test collagraph ready for my next opportunity to play with printing.

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