Saturday, 24 March 2012

Polymer Stamp Making Machine

I have been finally having success with my imagebox polymer stamp making machine.  When I first had delivery of it about 2 or 3 years ago.  I went through the process of making a stamp and it was a 'flop'.  So I thought OMG its not that easy and I was working on other printmaking projects and thought bah....I will have another attempt another time.
Fast forward to now where I find myself in a situation where I need plates of raised handwritten text to offset to acetate and then work up further to create monoprints
                   *    initial tests of A7 polymer stamps - offset on acetate - monotyped

So I had a go at the weekend taking great care to get dense black and white negatives and made sure I adhered strictly to the instructions.  AND it worked.
Last night I tried another one trial plate and it worked well - probably even better than the first one. I did make the writing bigger and fatter and I found I got the best negative for my stamp making procedure through doing the handwriting on the computer screen itself using a Photoshop virtual pencil.  Not the greatest 'ergonomic' experience as such but you kind of get used to it after a while. .

Here's a photo of my first test * - which looks awful in one sense but for me its a successful out come and I am able to proceed with my idea without having to spend hours and hours of back breaking neck aching carving of a lino plate - which I started last week.  I will finish that sometime but who knows when.  I was finding that my hands were truly aching after I cut away the lino of about 20 words and with 6 plates to create - life's too short and my hands are too precious!!

First A4 Polymer Stamp attempt

I had of course initially endeavoured to get the raised text by etching using aluminium then steel then zinc but time after time it just wasn't happening.  I was using the salt etch mordant i.e., copper sulphate which some might think would be a 'cinch' but you must be kidding it was like trying to get blood from a stone.

I wrote the above as a 'draft' post about 6 weeks ago.  Those polymer stamps I made using the Imagebox machine were A7 size - which is pretty small. 

 Second A4 Polymer Stamp attempt

Since that time I have been attempting to make an A4 polymer stamp and its been a lot of disappointment and frustration.  I have four A4 failed polymer stamps to show for it.  

I am hoping that the next one will be the one that comes out well.
I suppose at least they have improved.  The only thing that's missing from them is they don't have a floor.  The raised text is there but the poor little letters don't have a ground to cling on to.  Some of them even tried to escape down the sink plughole when I was washing out the 'gunge' from the polymer stamps.
Pretty boring post but that's an aspect of printmaking sometimes - trying to make something work !!


My A4 polymer stamp has worked - I used 1  minute for the first exposure phase which creates the 'floor' of the polymer stamp.
Then I flipped it over and let it settle down (the polymer sachet) for another minute,
Then as Sally ( at Photocentric) suggested - I did the next phase, i.e., the image exposure for 14 minutes.
This stamp has a floor which is excellent because that way the handwriting has something to grip onto.

I am so so so PLEASED !!!!........I got there in the end. HOORAY !!


  1. Aine, it may be that your exposure time needs to be increased, or that your wash out is too vigorous or too long. This is a very helpful book: "Printmaking with Polymer Plates" by Dianne Longley (Australia). You can buy it through her website. Good luck.

  2. Aine- I just wanted to say hi and thanks for visiting my strange universe blog. It looks like you've been blogging for a while. I'll have to go through some of your entries when I have more time. I really enjoyed your artwork, with its minimalist feel and quirky symbolism, reminiscent of Paul Klee. The information on your polymer process will be a good resource for my classes. In the old days, I used to reverse the lines in my zinc plates by wiping them with ink and then etching. The ink would stop out the scribed areas, allowing an open bite on the surrounding areas. Of course, the results were crude, compared to what you are wanting. However, it allowed me to create prints with lines in relief. It makes a good surface for creating interesting viscosity techniques. Please stay in touch. Best- Ralph Slatton


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