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Topic: Fern leaf & fractals (with leaf print tut)  (Read 7455 times)
Tags for this thread: fern , triangle , fractal , printmaking , linoleum , tutorial  Add new tag
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« on: September 30, 2009 10:08:32 AM »

For the month of September, 2009, the MSOE challenge is 'Fractal Geometry'. Fractals are self-similar: their parts mimic (more-or-less) the whole. Some of the exotic species within this mathematical family have precise familiar shapes, like the simplest rectilinear object you could imagine, the triangle. Others have organic lines like coast lines or plants. The fern is a stereotypical example; oblong leaves with branch off of veins which in turn branch off of other veins, in a self-similar manner.

In this mono print, I am comparing and contrasting the aspect of self-similarity, by combining a lino block printed Sierpiński Triangle (the holes in which could in theory continue ad infinitum, but being human, there is a practical limit to what can be carved) and a printed fern leaf.

Then, I made some more

So, there are lots of tutorials for relief printing (search for stamp making, for instance), but I thought I'd explain how to make a leaf print. This is how I did it:
1. Get leaf and scrap paper
2. Use a silkscreen to evenly apply the ink to the leaf. This should also produce a negative image print (i.e. colour everywhere the leaf was not) on your scrap paper. If you like how this looks, you can make some screenprints this way.
{If you don't have a screen, there are tutorials here, how to make one... or you can use a brayer or ink roller. Just be sure to place something underneath your leaf, and apply the ink evenly.}
3. Remove leaf from screen and position paper on top.
4. Burnish leaf onto paper using a baren (this is a Japanese printmaking tool which looks like a flat disk with a handle - you can get them at art supply stores). Don't have a baren? You can also use a wooden spoon- just place the round spoon against the back of the paper and rub. Alternatively, some people use rolling pins, or a book press. Everybody has a rolling pin right?

This is a fun thing to do now that it is autumn (at least in the northern hemisphere). Wink
You could layer different leaves, one on top of another.


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« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2009 10:37:59 AM »

Neat interpretation. Fractals are amazing right? And your fern prints turned out really well!

« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2009 02:50:39 PM »

Thanks! I wanted to combine the organic with the straight lines. Fractals are amazing.  Grin

I opened an Etsy shop! Come visit http://minouette.etsy.com

(I have a wist too: http://minouette.wists.com)
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2010 05:23:56 AM »

This is beautiful as well as interesting.  I play with some of the digital fractal generators, but I hadn't thought of expressing them in stamping.

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And some of my art.... PBase
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2010 11:28:55 AM »

Thanks very much iluvsparklies. I sort of thought people forget that fractals can be found in nature and a Sierpiński Triangle was one I could carve. Smiley

I opened an Etsy shop! Come visit http://minouette.etsy.com

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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2012 11:30:30 AM »

Fascinating look at your fern leaf fractals. I keep coming back to read and look at your technique, here is my novice question! Mentioning "ink"-what kind? I want to try this art form and everyone is a novice initially, right?
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2012 10:27:52 AM »

Hi and thanks texas4,

I use water-based block printing ink. You can get it at any art supply store. Oil-based block-printing ink would also work, but clean-up can involve solvents (which aren't really good for your health or the environment, so I avoid them). Since I used a screen to apply the ink to the leaf, I could also have used silk-screening ink, but it doesn't reproduce as well when you turn around an try to print a leaf.

This certainly isn't the only way to do this... but it did work well for me.

Good luck!

I opened an Etsy shop! Come visit http://minouette.etsy.com

(I have a wist too: http://minouette.wists.com)
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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2013 10:55:25 PM »

I like the natural shapes and how they repeat verses how the mathematical pattern and how it repeats. Very sweet.
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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2014 05:42:31 PM »

Your idea of using a silkscreen to apply the ink is very clever. It gives you an even application, and you get a negative image that you can use elsewhere. A bit wasteful of ink, perhaps, but worth it.


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