We were excited to be back at Double Elephant Print Workshop in Exeter to bring together our trials from our previous experimentation days and create our final prints.
Lots of discussions ensued with Simon and Lynn about the best way to progress them and a plan was made to photo-etch several plates with Sara’s painterly layers, Debbie’s machine-drawn lines and an image from one of the sheep webcams, along with a smaller side plate of a scan of the animal feed-sack from the farm.
Lynn expertly mixed the inks into varying tones of grey and noted their composition for ease of duplication.
The long process of multi-plate printing progressed, followed by the final screen-printed layers.
Though we were pleased with the results, it was becoming apparent that we were being over-ambitious in how many layers we could include to be able to create the number of prints within each edition, in the set timescale.
After a bit of a rethink, we came back with a final plan of how we could still achieve the style of prints we wanted, but with fewer layers. All our previous experimentation was really useful at this point, as we could see from our trials which layers could be equally well printed using the quicker screen-printing method rather than intaglio-printing.
We could also see which layers could be combined into one plate, without losing too much of the detail.
For the second print, we decided to have the plate of the scan from the feed-sack along the top of the print, rather than the side, making the overall dimensions of both prints the same, for consistency.
We wanted to introduce some colour to this print and so took inspiration from the feed-sack itself, which appears occasionally in the video when farmer Tony is feeding the sheep in the field. We’ve allowed a 1cm gap between the plates to enable us to include a line of hand-stitching, using the thread from the feed-sack, to emulate the top of the bag.
Lynn is creating our final artist proofs for us, so she makes copious notes of the decisions that have been taken over colour, tone, position of plates and order of layers.
It’s very exciting when the artist proofs arrive and after checking them and agreeing a slight tweak to the colour of the top plate, Lynn starts the intaglio-printing part of the process, followed by George, a DEPW technician, screen-printing the final layers for our editions.
We decide to title the prints after verbal commands Tony gives to Fly during the rounding-up of the sheep. ‘Get Away’ is the initial command given to send Fly off to the right to gather up the sheep in the field, which are in the distance and this matches the image from the sheep-cam used in this print.
‘Bring Them On’ is the command given to Fly to move the sheep forwards and this print interprets the movement of the sheep as they rush along the track from the field into the pens, driven by Fly.
When the final prints arrived, we hand-stitched 10 of the ‘Bring Them On’ prints, creating a smaller limited edition alongside the separate edition of 30.
We are very grateful for all the help, time, and support we’ve received from everyone at Double Elephant Print Workshop – creating these prints has been at times a very challenging process for us, but we hope we’ve produced something that successfully combines printmaking techniques with the layering of our hand-made and machine-made marks, capturing the movement of the sheep.
We’re also very grateful to Thelma Hulbert Gallery for their support and all three print editions will be available for sale in the gallery shop during the exhibition. It will be great to hear people’s thoughts on what they think of the prints and how they might relate to our larger-scale, more complex paintings.