shell prints

After experimenting with stone prints, I tried something similar with a big piece of shell.

shell with holes

The surface was very uneven, and there was a big hole going right through. I wasn’t sure how well it would make contact with the surface of the paper, but decided to try it out.

I painted a water wash over a section of bristol, saturating it well, and then slathered the surface of one side of the shell with watercolor paint. I pressed the painted shell down on the wet paper and dropped some blue watercolor through the hole in the stone.

shell print, heart

Because the paper was so wet, pigment was pulled away from the center of the image to create a halo affect around the resulting shape. Upon drying, the paper was quite rippled, so the scanner picked up several shadows that created a radiating pattern around the painting.

I got some advice that if I wet the whole paper, and not just part of it, the paper won’t dry with such uneven warping. I’ll have to try that when I do the next round of prints, but before learning that helpful tidbit, I followed the same technique with the opposite side of the shell.

shell print, vertical

I painted the shell mostly blue, with a little red mixed in on some areas. This was the concave side of the shell, so it didn’t make as much contact with the paper. I printed the shell twice to get a little more paint over the surface of the paper. The red paint that I dropped through the hole spread out smoothly and filled a lot of the empty space.

I enjoy this technique very much. I’m impressed with the colors in these two images. They are very rich, and I think it’s beautiful how the colors spread in organic, unexpected ways. I appreciate the randomness of the process. I can make certain choices, like whether to use a shell or a stone and what colors to apply, but ultimately the resulting print will be a total surprise–a result of the choices I’ve made interacting with the water and paper. It’s very satisfying work.

Stay tuned for my next post where I take the second shell print one step further using a copier and some doodles.

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