Monotypes are original artworks created through a printmaking process but cannot
be exactly duplicated, thus each print is a one of a kind. Monoprints are often
referred to as the more painterly of the printmaking processes. Basically a
smooth non-absorbent plate is directly painted upon with a media than
transferred to paper through pressure resulting in a original print. Even the
ghost print, some methods allow vary widely from the original print. Again the
main point is that these methods create a print which cannot be duplicated close
enough in multiples. Although artists will do a multi prints based on the same
image changing each one as mood strikes and seeing how medium and plate react to
the process itself.
Techniques for creating these pieces are quite varied but generally are split first into two main catagories of dry plate and wet plate transfers. Dry plate transfers are where the image is created upon the plate and allowed to dry before being transferred to a dampened paper. Wet plate transfers are done straight from the plate while the inks are still wet onto the waiting paper.
These catagories can than be further divided into additive or subtractive plate methods. Additive being where you paint layers onto the plate to create an image to print. Subtractive methods where the entire plate is inked and then the image is created through erasing, or removing the ink from plate can be done as either wet or dry plate transfers. Naturally the direct draw methods require a wet plate transfer due to their very nature.
Direct draw monoprinting can be done by carefully placing very lightweight rice paper on an evenly inked plate. Using fingers or blunt implements to draw your design upon the back of the paper causes the ink to only transfer where pressure has occurred between paper and plate. You can even use lace or cut outs and textured items pressed against the paper to create images or backgrounds.
Additive techniques vary as well, some require you to do a full painting onto the plate, letting it dry, then transfering it to wet paper. Others will work up a full painting on the plate and do an immediate transfer to slightly spritzed papers. Still other techniques will work piece meal by building up the image in layers of transfers, but you do need to have some way of keeping the plate in register to do so.
Plates need to be smooth and non-absorbent to work well for printmaking. Glass, mirrors, or acrylics sheets are all good examples. Acrylics are a little safer, though the edges shoudl still be taped off to avoid possible injuries. You can use mylar, acetate or duralar films as well for a plate. Even paper is used as a plate material in some methods. Printing inks tend to work best, though you can use watercolours, acrylics or oils even, simply adjusting the techniques to work with your chosen medium.
Transfer techniques vary depending on the method being used. But not all require a table top style press. Good results can be achieved with a spoon, fingers, barren, rolling pin or pin press so an actual flat press is not a necessity toward exploring monoprints.