Saturday, May 5, 2018

New Toy

It's been a L-O-N-G winter; not only because of the weather but my care giving responsibilities have derailed my studio practice. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and Spring is finally here.

For months, I've been thinking about purchasing an Xcut Xpress. I've seen a few printmakers on line using this die cutting craft machine for a printing press. One artist, Colin Blanchard has done a lot of experimentation with this small machine and has even put together some great YouTube videos. Check out his site. Anyway, I finally ordered one.

I found it on Amazon for a decent price because they said the box was slightly damaged. That was an understatement! I was concerned when I saw the condition of the box, but after unpacking and checking it out,  the unit seemed fine.

Since today is Print Day in May, I thought it was the perfect time to spend some time in the studio playing with my new toy.

First I needed to find some blankets. Digging through my fabric stash I found some scraps of hot pink craft felt that I had used to make a cape for my granddaughter.

My first test was with a Sintra plate. This lightweight PVC board can be used in a number of ways and for this test, I laid a few objects on the surface and ran it through the press. I inked the plate up as a relief using Speedball water based relief ink. After some experimenting, I found that the 5 setting on the Xcut worked perfectly.

Success! The bed rolled through the press fairly easily and I ended up with a decent impression with one pass. I printed on a dry sheet of Arnham paper. Next test, an intaglio plate.

This is a small 3" x 3" Solarplate mounted on matte board. I inked it up with Akua Ink and printed on a damp sheet of Arnham paper. I needed to change the setting to 4 to get enough pressure and ran the plate through the press twice to get a decent impression. The important thing is that with some tweaking and experimentation you can use this press for intaglio plates.

Finally, I tried a relief Solarplate . With the setting back to 5, I ran the plate through the press and got another fairly successful image. Again. I printed on a dry sheet of Arnham and used Speedball relief ink but I think I under inked the plate.

The bottom line is this small "press" does a decent job printing relief and intaglio plates. The bed measures 12" x 8" but you could easily make a new longer bed. 

For anyone who's interested in printmaking but has shied away because of space issues or cost of equipment, this could be an affordable alternative. (I paid $133 for mine.) The press folds up into a neat compact unit and weighs about 13 pounds or so.

I purchased the Xcut Xpress so I could take it on the road for printmaking demonstrations. Looking forward to sharing the pleasures of printmaking with others.