2021 Topic 13: Tiny (News) Print
OK so I am heading into a deep dive on how I found this tub of 'Absorbent Ground (white)', seen in the centre of the picture below. When I took this photo I didn't know realise where I was heading, but I adore gels, mediums etc so this was a chance to explore! The plan was to find out if the 'ground' made it easier to create watercolour backgrounds on vintage papers. Answer: well, it kind of helps, but it still isn't anything like working directly on good watercolour paper...however, it served my purpose pretty well in the end as you will discover as i walk you through the process. I ended up very happy, but not for the reasons I originally expected.
As an aside, both Absorbent Ground and Fibre Paste are Golden products that are supposed to help your paper behave more like watercolour paper. (they also have Qor branded versions of the same product) Qor are Golden's watercolours, a fairly new product for them that seems to be getting good reviews. They really do 'suck in' the colour into the paper, and the colours seem to dry quite nicely on top of it, but they actually don't let your 'wet in wet' watercolour techniques 'travel' anything like they do when you get those magical effects on watercolour paper, so don't get too excited....
*drumroll*.... it creates a gorgeous 'toothy' surface to stamp onto,
and that WAS AMAZING! Let me attempt to describe how this product feels:
when you rub your fingers over the dry ground it's more gritty-chalky
and much more finely textured than fresco paints, which feel
silky-chalky by comparison. As a product it really seems to 'pull into'
itself the product you apply on top. So, for example, take a look at
just how black the inked images are in the samples I made. Usually you
would expect a bit of texture, a bit of the image to be paler in some
areas, but I must say, every print I made with archival ink directly
onto the absorbent ground was perfect! So for that feature alone, it was
a really good experiment to do! I LOVED how the rubber stamps with
archival ink perform over the ground.
So let me back up a bit. It is good practice, when testing out theories, to use the same brand where possible in the layers, this was also the recommendation on the tub of ground. My vintage paper (a very old handwritten record of each French plot of land within an property purchase agreement) was particularly fragile, so I started by sealing it with matte medium to secure it to smoothy card and then applied gesso. I used a catalyst tool to get extremely thin layers. Matte medium (Golden) in the tall bottle, is a pourable, runny product, much thinner that a gel medium (see the videos below for info on these products).
You can see how soft the background looks once dry. I did wonder if the ground actually hinders watercolours looking as vibrant compared to how they might if they were used the same way on watercolour paper. Anyhow, lucky I am not a watercolour expert, as I might be disappointed with this 'ground' product, however, for me, there were other exciting things about the Absorbent Ground that I was just about to discover....
A couple more close ups of the detail ....