I was browsing through the giant IKEA store in Amersfoort (The Netherlands) the other day and in the kitchen section I spotted (as we artists do) an anti-slip table-mat made of rubber/plastic or silicone. My immediate thought was – “Ooow, I could use that to create a lino-cut, I like the shape”. So here it is – a flat green plastic-mat, 34.5 x 44.5cm.
IKEA could begin a competition – 1001 things to do with one of their place-mats. They state that with the “OMTÄNKSAM series, we (I.e. IKEA) want to contribute to a simpler, safer and more independent everyday life for anyone who needs a helping hand“.
Admittedly it is not an ideal thickness for lino-cutting, but it is thick enough. It’s about 3mm thick. I used normal lino-cutting Pfeil tools. The biggest draw-back cutting the material was the static produced while cutting. I couldn’t brush up the off-cuts, they’d fly everywhere. Instead every evening I’d drag out the vacuum cleaner and vacuum all the little bits and pieces.
This is an image of the design I created on the place-mat, prior to cutting. I will do a series of Dutch linos and I’m afraid that some of them will be clichés. But then again perhaps in art the cliché does not exist? My current theme is windmills.
This is the transferred image which has been partially cut into the place-mat. The featured image is another lino-cut using the same mat and technique. I’ll post the printed results soon.
When it came to printing the place-mat I did have a couple of issues. First I tried using oil based ink and found that after several rolls, the brayer would start removing the ink from the surface I had just covered. Gee whiz all this work for nothing! But then decided to try water-based ink. It was then that I hit the second problem. While cleaning off the oil based ink using white spirits I discovered that the silicone/plastic place-mat began to distort slightly (melt might be a more accurate description). It could not cope with the turpentine based products. So I removed the ink and turps as quickly as I could before permanent damage occurred. Washed it all in soapy water, waited for the place-mat to dry and had another go, this time with water-based ink. No problems with adhesion or coverage. I then turned my attention to printing, using the press and Simili paper. But I was to discover that even without pressure on the cylinder the press was too heavy and caused the mat to distort leaving the ink distended across the page. So I decided to hand print.
Here’s the final print below. It was printed on fine Japanese paper. It’s a scene of a Dutch Windmill and a typical selection of birds I see as a travel around the Netherlands: Heron, Stalk, Crane, Magpie, Common Coot, Crow, Canadian Geese, Black and White Swan, ducks of all sorts, and my favorite – Swallow. The water plants along the canals include, Iris, Water Lilies, Bull Rush Cat Tail plant, Teasel and Nympheae and Reed.
For many of you this scene will represent a Dutch cliché i.e. a scene that, upon its inception, may have been striking but has become unoriginal through repetition and overuse. Popularity made scenes such as these seem trite, turning them into what we now call clichés. Whether you like the scene or not, the reality is, that this scene is alive and well in the Netherlands of today. Sure, more often than not you see large turbine driven windmills of the modern variety towering over these beautiful small old windmills, but despite that, in the foreground this scene is still to be found in the Netherlands of 2019- thank goodness!
If you are interested in one of these prints please contact me : firstname.lastname@example.org