Use of Natural Rice Paper from Waste Remnants to create a Series of Nine Prints & Imprints
Through reading up on rice paper and recognising its sheer qualities I started to experiment with different types of rice paper which is often used for sumi-e and calligraphy. I soon realised that this paper type had unique qualities in how they reacted to the printing inks. I was keen to select a rice paper for a series of screen prints on sheer paper, so I investigated its characteristics through sampling. I preferred unsized rice paper which was more of a raw product with heightened degrees of absorbency with a soft and textured surface quality. The small squeegee worked well as it could be more readily manipulated to suit the rice paper. Although there were difficulties with the rice paper ripping and pulling apart, I enjoyed the screen-printing process of getting to know this material especially using more translucent printing inks on pre-cut rice paper. The ripping and tearing effects which exemplified this idea of fracturing fitted with what I wished to communicate, of environmental fragility and brittleness.
The natural and beautiful textural surface qualities of the rice paper added to the printed mark making alongside the picking up of several imprints from uncleaned screens. While the rice paper held up well after the first print there was less resilience evidenced with any additional prints. Thereafter the rice paper became quite unmanageable, stuck to the screen, and readily disintegrated. Despite this I felt that the process lent itself to the environmental context in which I work. I was almost fighting for the survival of the rice paper as I am trying to convey the fight that is required to preserve and work with the environment to ensure its survival. The imagery printed originated from natural surface qualities of marine and coastal life which was involved in this fight for life which helped to communicate this experience of struggle and survival within a life lived.
On several of the pieces of rice paper recycled resist materials were used including fringing and threads to create added contrasts and areas of interest. The resist worked well however this often-created additional fracturing as the rice paper was no longer completely flat during the screen-printing processes. With its sheer quality little pressure could be tolerated before fracturing which exemplifies the current environmental balance between life and death, survival, and extinction. I really enjoyed the immersive quality of this creative process and its juxtaposition with nature.
The imagery which worked best appeared to be the examples with a more equitable balance between print coverage, imprints, space, and colour between the left-over printing inks of translucent pale green and brown-red-orange. Areas of more dynamic mark making from both the exposed imagery on the screen and the use of smaller squeegees within selected areas of the imagery also contributed to the eventual outcome.
The printed rice paper was another material type which was lovely to touch, its natural qualities fractured through pressure and the application of printing inks still held onto its unique sheer qualities. This paper type appeared to replicate the qualities of muslin through print processes so while larger scale work would be extremely difficult using rice paper, I can carry forward this work on sheer paper to larger scale work on muslin.
Ultimately for me screen-printing is not about repetition but uniqueness, so with every print and imprint something different and dynamic is being created, which further fuels an ongoing process of discovery through the varying and changing use of materials, techniques, relationships, scale and feelings.