Inktense is Grate! with Tess Imobersteg

In this quick lesson, we’re using grated Inktense. In an earlier blog I wrote about making a ‘stock’ solution with grated Inktense. This time we’ll be using grated Inktense as part of the technique.

Either blocks or pencils can be grated, although I find it a bit of a shame to grate my pencils. For this we only need to grate small amounts of Inktense.

Equipment needed:

  • Shaving foam – I use the cheapest available.
  • Fine grate (like kitchen grate) or the discontinued Derwent Grate N Shake if you have that
  • Paper or stabilized fabric – since this is a wet media technique, I recommend using at least 100 lb (200 gsm) watercolor or multi-media paper. If using fabric, I like to iron freezer paper on the back of fabric to stabilize and support the fabric but it is optional.
  • Thin flat straight-edged tool or art squeegee for smoothing shaving foam and drawing off foam – I use a piece of plastic cutting mat but one could use a large palette knife or anything similar that is as wide as the shaving foam printing surface. You just need something that will make a flat surface on the shaving foam.
  • Paper towel.

Step 1: Lay down some shaving foam on your work surface.

Step 2: Using a straight edged tool, smooth the shaving foam flat to a size just larger than your paper.

Step 3: Grate a small amount of Inktense directly on the foam. It is fun to use multiple colours.  Generally analogous colours (colours next to each other on the colour wheel) are most successful.

Step 4: Spritz the front and back of the paper so the paper does not curl. Wetted paper holds the small grains of Inktense better and begins the ‘activation’ process for Inktense (pigment is fully dissolved in water to become permanent when dry). Put the paper down on the grated Inktense and press the back so that all parts of the paper are in contact with the foam.

Step 5: Remove the paper and lay foam side up on a protected work surface. Using a flat edged tool, firmly draw off the shaving foam. I usually wipe the foam off on a paper towel afterwards.

Step 6: There is not enough moisture involved so far to fully activate the grated Inktense (pigment is fully dissolved in water to become permanent when dry).  I like to spritz the paper lightly with water and then gently smooth the remaining granules with a wet paper towel.

Step 7: You can use this technique with stencils. I find that you really have to use a stencil adhesive to temporarily stick the stencil to the paper so it does not move.

Step 8: All the steps are the same. When drawing off the foam you need to be very careful about not moving the stencil. Then before removing the stencil, spritz the paper and stencil with water and pat or tap the paper with a wet paper towel to fully ‘activate’ the Inktense.

Top Tips!

  • This works well when you have a good adhesion with the stencil adhesive.

  • The Inktense media can be grated directly onto the paper, not using shaving foam.

  • After grating Inktense on the paper, spritz the paper with water.

  • Using a wet paper towel, pat, swipe or twist the granules to make a pattern with the remaining undissolved granules.

I hope you find these techniques  ‘Grate’ like I do!  Ok, I’ll quit with the puns.  Try, experiment, have fun!

You can view some of Tess’ work and classes on her website or her Facebook.

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