Part 4, Stages 2&3, Project 2, Exercise 2 – Polyfiller block

25 April 2017

Project 2, Exercise 2 – Polyfiller block

This exercise was about exploring textures for print using a Polyfiller block. As in project 2, exercise 1, I used a piece of mount-board between A4 and A3 which I was able to dive into 12 sections.

I wasn’t sure what type of polyfiller to use (there are flexible/silicone ones as well as those which are powder-based). In the end, I opted to mix up my own paste from a general purpose DIY filler powder. This gave me a large enough quantity of paste and allowed me to mix it to the correct consistency. 

Having spread the paste onto the mount-board, I had to work quickly manipulating each area with mark-making tools to achieve different textures. The finished board is shown below:

The tools which I used to create the textures were as follows:

Top row, left to right: Dabbing with a sponge, hair comb, nail brush, the circumference of a plastic bottle top, rolled in vertical stripes.

Middle row, left to right: Inscribing with a wooden kebab skewer, plant stem pressed into the filler to form ridges, woven leather and synthetic belt (the same one that I used in project 2, exercise 1), the edge of a plastic ruler.

Bottom row, left to right: The tip of a cotton bud, a plastic bottle top, section of crocheted bath mat (the same as used in project 2, exercise 1), the sole of a flip-flip (underside).


Because the filler tends to be powdery when dry I decided to also coat the board with a couple of layers of pva glue before taking any prints. I used different paper and fabric with Akua intaglio ink which I applied undiluted with a decorators’ paint brush. Before taking fresh prints, I replenished the block by re-inking. In all cases I worked the print by pressing and massaging the paper of fabric across the block using my thumb and fingers.


SAMPLE 1: 130gsm cartridge paper

I was rather disappointed with this print. Although the textures were captured, the ink only transferred to the “high points” of the polyfiller relief and consequently the print appears dot-like, rather disjoint and lacking depth.

SAMPLE 2: Brown paper

I used the type of brown paper which is used to wrap parcels and printed onto the glossy side. The coating had the effect of repelling the ink, and the transfer was sporadic and inconsistent.

It was a poor facsimile of the relief with little transfer in some areas and large pools of ink in others. For this reason it was my least favourite of the prints in this exercise.


SAMPLE 3: Cotton muslin

The detail and beauty of this print surprised me. In fact, the very process of working across and into the surface with my fingers was enlightening (in so much as I felt as if I was learning about the quality of the surface from the process); it was akin to throwing pottery.

The relief made by indents with a coton bud is shown below. I love the rings of ink around each of the round holes and the diffuse transfer of ink in the negative spaces between them.

Another texture which worked particularly well was the plant stem – the effect is like ripples in sand.

The final texture which I have chosen to highlight is the rolled circumference of a plastic bottle top (below). I was able to create different effects by rolling in perpendicular directions. The fine ridges gave very detailed impressions, and consequently a print with a great deal of delicacy and movement.

SAMPLE 4: Japanese tissue

The final print was taken onto Japanese tissue (see below):

Although some of the textures transferred well, it lacked the detail and depth of the print onto muslin. 


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