carborundum prints

Singing Skies carborundum prints
by Suzanne Osborne & stuart A. staples

Please contact us here for availability and purchase.

I first became aware of the painterly quality offered by the carborundum printing process on a visit to the studio of master printmaker Tom Phelan in Vienna. I was struck by the way in which the carborundum paste was capable of capturing both fine and deep, delicate and bold gestures.

My Oblivion (detail 1)

My Oblivion

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The paste itself is a preparation of finely ground metal particles and a PVA-like liquid, mixed anywhere between a thin and thick consistency, then applied with a brush to acetate plates, which are then dried to later hold pigment, before being rolled under pressure through a traditional printing press to transfer the image onto dampened paper.

I Know That Loving (detail 1)

I Know That Loving

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This, depending on the energy and style of the brush marks, and on the way in which the plates were then separately inked and wiped, by hand, lent a wonderfully painterly feel to the process. The hardened carborundum paste seemed to preserve the gestures, like flies caught in amber, which then became embossed into the paper when printed, working texture and energy through the colours being printed.

At the time Stuart and I were busy collating ‘Singing Skies’. As we studied my paintings and Stuart’s typed words everyday, we began to talk about the idea of trying to print a small selection of skies and songs, paired as they are in the book.

The Other Side of the World (detail 1)

The Other Side of the World

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Within weeks, I was back in Tom’s studio in Vienna painting, scratching, buffing acetate – The first of many trips to eventually realise this collection of 10 prints in signed and numbered editions of 12.

It was important to view this process not as an attempt at recreating the original paintings, but more as their own entity only informed by the original.

Each image is made from 3 plates, each containing up to 4 colours. Each colour is separately inked to the desired intensity and shape by hand, a time consuming task! After every passage through the press the plates are meticulously cleaned ready for the next. Each pass degrades the carborundum which in itself determines the number of prints available – we limited the edition to 12 to preserve the integrity of the marks made.
There can be no further editions from these plates.

Cherry Blossoms (detail 1)

Cherry Blossoms

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With this process each print becomes different to the one before, each one holds its own character. I must admit that I maybe drove Tom a little crazy with the nuances I felt were integral sometimes (in retrospect that maybe I could only see). Though, with his skill and my exacting tendancies, I felt we reached somewhere special with this work.

Suzanne Osborne, August 2013

Marseilles Sunshine (detail 1)

Marseilles Sunshine

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Marbles

Marbles

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Don't Ever Get Tired

Don’t Ever Get Tired

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This Fire Of Autumn

This Fire Of Autumn

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She's Gone

She’s Gone

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Dance With An Old Man

Dance With An Old Man

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54cm x 37cm prints on Zerkall-German etch. White rough. 350 g/m paper.

Strict limited editions of 12 only.
Signed and numbered by Suzanne & Stuart.
£725 for each print with a signed copy of Singing Skies.
All packaging & courier costs included.

Please contact us here for availability and purchase.

Making of the Carborundum Prints

a short film by Martin Wallace

(yep, there’s no audio!)