I am going to show you a more detailed way of how I go about my rubbings as I have been inundated with requests! For this tutorial I am using common brown seaweeds as I have been wanting to do a valentine image for a print. This is the way I do my rubbings there are many different ways to do it, by looking on you tube you can find loads of other tutorials.
Things you will need:
1 Seaweed or shells, leaves, fish etc, anything fairly flat will work the best.
2 Kitchen paper, newspaper and clean paper.
3 Paint, I use Alkyd Fast Drying oil paint, you can use acrylic or even poster paint as long as it doesn’t dry out.
4 Fairly stiff brush to apply paint
5 White Spirit to remove oil paint from fingers ( yes it does get messy! )
6 Cotton sheets with no creases.
The next step is to make sure the sea weed is not wet, either blot with kitchen paper or press between newspaper, this stops sea weed from drying out which you don’t want as it becomes to wrinkly. This isn’t a problem if you are using shells etc. Apply paint fairly liberally. I use a mixture of black and blue as I like the bluish hue it gives, but its fun to try other colours. As this is quite an ambitious piece to work with it is always worth trying out smaller objects to see if the colour and paint works ok. It is also interesting to note that cotton sheets can have very different and interesting textures that appear on the rubbing. The next bit is tricky on something like this and also messy.
You can see that the clean paper is now behind the old newspaper so that the paint that went over the edges of the rubbing is now covered. Now get you piece of sheet cut to the size that comfortably covers the entire rubbing and carefully place over the image.
Press the sheet with your fingers firmly over the whole rubbing, it’s a good idea to use your other hand to hold the sheet in place to prevent it from moving and smudging the image. You can sometimes see some of the image appearing faintly on the sheet.
Carefully peel back the cloth from the sea weed, this is always the most fun bit as the image starts to appear! What I do then is to tape it on to a wall so that I can view the whole piece.If there are some pale areas or tiny bits missing, take a small stiff brush, add a small amount of paint and carefully and lightly apply directly on to the image.
Here is the final rubbing, the image isn’t great as it was quite dark in my studio. While I now have the base of my heart I took some more rubbings to add to the image while I was making such a mess anyway!
These images will take a couple of days to dry thoroughly, there a several things you can do, frame your lovely piece of art, it is always fascinating to me to see how much detail appears on to the sheet, it really captures the essence of what ever it is you choose to rub. With the rubbings I have done I scan them into my computer on an old scanner and put them together on photoshop. This enables me to clean up any smudges and reduce or enlarge the image to make a print.
This is my final image, I added some Bladder Wrack and a few other assorted seaweeds from my archive, shells, prawns and three sardines, some of this is not to scale, but I am pleased with the final result. This will make a different and unusual print which I will put on my website on Monday!
I really hope this will help give you an idea on how to approach a rubbing, it is not an exact science and it is always fun to experiment, a great thing to do on these dreary wet weekends!