Saturday, 1 August 2015

plant prints on an agar plate - (how to make an agar plate)

     Behold!  the AMAZING AGAR PLATE!

     Ok, so it is kinda ugly.  And it has a giant crack in it now.  But this this is pretty darn amazing because i made it sometime way back in MAY and it is stick working!  I had been interested by gelatin prints for awhile, but being vegetarian, gelatin just would not do, so I had did a little experiment on making a plate out of agar.  And, well, it worked!  more or less.  I had made a couple of plates experimenting with the concentration, one of the first plates i made got a bit damaged during my first attempts using it and instead of throwing it out i chopped it up and melted it down, added some more water and a little more agar and reused it.  The orange spots are just rust spots from the pan i made it in (an old, somewhat rusty 8" cake pan) and it ended up having little bits of paint flecks throughout, but it worked!  BUT!  i made it back in MAY!  and it is now the last day of July!  I have not been using it much, in fact i have probably not used it since may, it has been sitting, wrapped in plastic wrap in the back of my fridge.  still, i had not expected it to still be of use.  I had made another fresh plate on the same day and soon after (within a few weeks) it started growing mold on it!  (i wonder if it is because i might have touched it when i had a cold!)
     my cousin had made her own plate inside a plastic container with a lid around the same time and that too has been sitting in the lovely back of my fridge this whole time as well.  i checked on that today and it seems like it might be starting to get a bit of mold growing on the bottom of it, there was also a lot of water building up in the container, but really, it probably could still be used.

     The recipe i used for my fresh agar plates was: 4.5tsp of agar powder to every 1.5c of water
you need to boil the water first, then add powder and let it boil a bit, pour it into your mold and let it cool overnight, during which time it will harden.  after that it, turn it over and it should pop out super easy!  i used a metal cake tin and my cousin used a plastic container and both came out really easy.

     the reason i pulled out the agar plate was that i wanted to attempt to make some prints from leaves.  last time i attempted to make prints it was still pretty early in the season and there was not much plant matter out there yet.  here are some of the prints that i made:

     i had only really used blue and green and some copper.  i also just used acrylic paints & figured out this time that thinning it out quite a bit with water really helps.  the previous times (there has only really been 2 or 3) that i have tried i had either used thicker coats or had the paint dry out on me before i got the chance to make the print.  plus we tried using tempra paints too, which worked pretty well! 
    i had also made some envelopes for mailart earlier out of old bus maps that needed some further embeleshment, so i thought i would print on those too.

     some of the better leaves that i found to print with were from dandelions, the butterfly bush, and suprisingly, creeping bell flower (the envelope in the front uses those), which did not really appear to have too much detail in them before using them, i picked them mainly for their shape.

     some of the used leaves.  i decided to try pressing and drying them, possibly using them for something else.  i esspecially like the bronzed butterfly bush leaves! 
     i need to make a new plate, the amazing one has that huge crack and also is pretty full of some indentations and pits from pressing pretty hard.  it should be fun to experiment some more with different leaves and colours though!

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