U1. Methods| Process| Materials

- Induction workshop -

Photo references:
Finding the process:

In the beginning, I was not very clear about the theme of my project, so during the first month of the induction workshop my practice centred around nature and my life. The work I started with was often based on photographs that I had taken in my life and developed from there. After that, I was still looking for a specific theme and I couldn’t help but want to walk through the forest in search of something unknown. The reason why I am so interested in forests and nature is that every time I go to a forest I feel very small, but I also feel wrapped up in a very quiet atmosphere. Especially when I see those huge trees, I am fascinated by the way they grow and the direction of their branches, so I often draw them involuntarily. But I always feel that there is something else that I want to explore, and I feel that I am very close to it.

On one of my walks at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham, I stumbled across mushrooms in the grass as well as on tree stumps. I followed my intuition I wanted to bring them into my work first. Then I realised that I hadn’t been responding positively to my subconscious mind, which had been wanting to memorise my grandfather and bring this emotion into my work. I remember when he passed away just last year I wrote a piece of writing in my notebook: “Mom said that when you leave, you will transform into another form, always accompanying and protecting us. You will become an angel watching over us, existing in our hearts, and your presence will be eternal. I believe you will transform into a gentle breeze, a rain shower, a shining star, a grain of sand—surrounding everything around me, brushing past every aspect of my being, accompanying me in the ways of the universe.” The reason why I choose to focus on fungi is because it embodies the concepts of death and rebirth. Fungi emerge from decay, giving birth to new life — a gleaming new life is born in the dark of night.

- Etching Photopolymer Practice -

Mushrooms at night,2024
The Reference photo I took from Nottingham,2023

I combined two photos I took (The other is Raindrops on the Grass.) and ended up using the combined image to transfer onto photopolymer.

Process and Experimentation:
The process of transferring photos to photo polymer. Testing the effects of exposure
Two pieces of photopolymer ready to be tried

I took the images I had taken and brought them into printmaking, I chose photopolymer first as I hadn’t tried it before and wanted to learn the whole process.

The process of transferring the photo to photopolymer did not work well so several plates were used to test the time of exposure and the effect on the plates. My original plan was to use burnishing to add a water droplet effect to the original photo. I wanted to give the image a feeling of newly grown mushrooms after the rain. But things always go in unexpected places. I’m going to try another piece of photopolymer that failed in exposure (lost a lot of surrounding detail with only the mushrooms in the middle) and try it with the successful polymer.

Firstly, the aquatint was done twice as it made the image darker. I printed each of the original two plates first to see how it worked, and then I developed and experimented with the images.

original plate
In the process of aquatint (twice)
Using a successful photopolymer print
Using an unsuccessful photopolymer print
Burnishing in progress
Plate in burnishing
After burnishing
Comparison of plate and print
Comparison of first and second burnishing, above is the second burnishing

The second step was to follow my original plan of burnishing on my original plate, burnishing raindrops on a successfully exposed plate.

Since it was my first time using Burnishing, I didn’t know how to see the effect of my drawing at first, and Brain told me to use a rag to rub a little bit of ink on the plate so that I could see the reflection of the image I drew. 

To do Burnishing, you need to burnishing and printing together to see how well the burnishing is going. When I burnished for a long time but the result was not what I expected, I decided to burnish another plate that failed in exposure at the same time. I refer to the photo on my phone to burnish the background of the woods and the part under the fungi.

Burnishing feels like working with feeling, you need to feel how hard and how many times you burnish. When Brain saw my first burnishing print, he suggested I go slow and make the background a bit brighter. Then on the second burnishing, I felt like my eyes were going to glaze over, couldn’t remember where I had burnished the second time and felt I was too slow then I just scraped the resin particles out of the background in my way, very quickly. I also tried to draw with the burnishing, and then my first burnishing came out, and it was kinda nice, the background had the feeling of running wild in the forest and then suddenly finding mushrooms. But in fact, burnishing is about taking your time, starting from the edges of the image, and not being in a hurry to create.

Then Brain told me a method to try, a strange method called Printable Screen Enamel Stencil. Use Metal protection on the surface of the plate and it will leave white. My understanding is that it’s like masking fluid, and Cellulose Thinners is used to wipe the Metal protection. The way I do it is that I find a picture that I want to cover the image with, expose it to a screen print, and then print it on the plate with Metal protection. Since I wanted to leave the mushroom uncovered I painted the mushroom with varnish and then put another layer on top of it, after that I removed the varnish with white spirit and the covering on the mushroom was also taken away.

Then it was ready to print, and in this plate exploration, the unexpected development of different layers of the failed exposure plate taught me to embrace the surprises that come with failure.

The development process of my prints:

- spores etching practice -

Process and Experimentation:
My first handshake aquatint
Print from the first handshake aquatint

After some experiments with my test plate, inspired by the tutorial, I focused on spores and wanted to use a large broken piece of resin on this plate to create the effect of spores around a mushroom using a handshake aquatint, and to learn a new technique as well. I like to explore strange techniques. I was also inspired by a set of prints in the classroom (left). After talking to Brain, he guided me to explore with him.

The first attempt failed, probably because the etching time was too short. So the second time I repeated the previous steps and spread the resin a bit more, melted the resin a bit over the fire and put it into the acid pool for etching, about 7 minutes.

Details of the re-biting plate
Details of the re-biting plate
Polishing process
Comparison print before(left side) and after polishing(right side)

Continuing to work deeper into this plate, I learned a new technique called the re-biting process, which made my plate three-dimensional.

The method was to gently put on a layer of hard ground to dip into the acid pool to etch and then put on another layer of hard ground to repeat the process three times (and  I will continue to repeat the process after that) starting to etch from 5:00 pm to about 6:45 pm before starting to print.

The first printing was not good, so Brain showed me different ways of polishing there are four steps: 1: Give the plate a little water and then polish it with a stone, it will polish the outstanding part of the bright. 2: Rubbing with limonine. 3: Brasso metal polishing. 4: Clean with methylated after that then go to print It will become brighter.

I’ve found that deep etching I kinda like, I like the bumpiness of the paper I print on after a long etching, I might try that more in the next unit.

Colour experiment:

- Stone litho practice -

Imagine the movement of spores
Resolved artwork

There are two parts to this stone litho practice, one part is me imagining spores movement, the original plan was to imagine a series of spores movement and present it in lithography – reversal, but so far reversal hasn’t worked out, still trying.

This image of a drawing of spores movement on stone litho which is presented with reference to a picture about spores.

Printed leaf texture on stone

The photos I took as reference

The second part was to reveal the hidden mushrooms, in this practise I tried to print real leaves I picked up with paints on the stone, interestingly the texture printed on the stone didn’t look obvious, when etched the texture of the printed leaves started to be strong instead.

- Pretend I'm a mushroom -


Inspired by the Tutorial, gather the pencil chalks together, blow them away and see what happens to imprint on the paper.

I think I blew the angle a bit low, need to experiment a few more times afterwards, in the future, I plan to use Photoshop to try and develop it.

- Some drawing practice -

I was influenced by George Shaw’s lithography which made me want to capture photographs of tree growth forms. I started by drawing the images I had taken from Epping Forest but I didn’t settle down and just quickly captured the form.

I used coloured charcoal and charcoal drawings.


The drawing on the right was drawn off and on over four days, and was the first time I had ever described the growth form of a plant in detail. This drawing made me understand more about myself. It turns out that I can make detailed drawings.

I plan to transfer this drawing to stone litho in Unit 2, as well as develop more images of entanglement in nature.

- Meditation drawing -

The meditation drawings were a daily goal I set for myself:  Because I wanted to know what images would appear after I had drawn a whole sketchbook. 

The whole process lasted about a month.

Using watercolour and partly line pen, each piece size 12.5 x 15cm


How to develop them: I might explore the images in collage or use Photoshop to develop them with my prints.

- 3 Day Image Making Project -

Collaboration with yunxuan's work(Orange part of the work)
Collaborating with my classmates' work
Process and Experimentation:
Relief print
Relief print

On the first day, I was inspired by a nice texture I found while polishing stone, which I brought into the relief. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible with lines.

(💡 I found that I was interested in textures in nature, and combined with my observations of my meditation drawing, by late in the process most of my work was drawing lines, so perhaps in the next unit I could also try to collect textures that I see in nature that interest me to present them in the line form.)

The next day was a collage on a large piece of paper combining the material we already had plus the material provided. As well as trying photocopy transfer and even adding stitching to it.

collage process
Collage with photocopy transfer
Photocopy transfer process
The detail of transfer process
Photoshop collage
Photoshop collage

After scanning on the third day, I took my stuff and my prints using Photoshop collage and then digital print on Japanese paper and finally mono the lines on the image. Continuing to add layers.

This three-day project has been productive, I didn’t expect to be able to make larger sizes than expected, and it has also given me an insight into the concept of crossover and layers in printmaking. Currently, in unit 1, my work is too monolithic in the same technique, I hope that in unit 2 I can cross-use different techniques to combine them in a single piece of my work, and figure out how to destroy the image and have fun with it !