When I returned to the Netherlands after my stay in Suriname, I wanted to connect with a craft in a similar way as I had experienced working with podosiri in Suriname. I decided to take my digital photographs and print them, using an analogue process.
For two months in 2019, I worked at AGA LAB as an artist in residence. First, I participated in a photo etching workshop, where I learned how to transfer a photograph to a photopolymer plate, which you can then use to print. Following this, I experimented with lighting times and various methods of applying ink and ‘wiping ink’ (removing the excess ink from the etching plate, before printing).
I also attended a workshop with artist collective PAINTING PLANTS (artist Lucila Kenny and biologist Naan Rijks). During this workshop, we researched how to extract color from podosiri. We discovered that the best method was to heat the podosiri pulp, evaporating part of the moisture.
We found out that the color of podosiri ink is influenced by its PH value. Various colors appeared, depending on what I added to the ink. The color became redder, sometimes almost pink, upon adding lemon juice. Adding baking soda made the ink more black. The substance had yet to be made into ink, so a fatty binding agent had to be added. Too much fat, however, and practically all color disappeared, which became apparent upon printing.
During the workshop I didn’t manage to create a successful print using the inks we made. After four more weeks of solo experimentation, I found the right method. However, the results were losing quality. Eventually, a fellow artist told me that a photo etching plate can only be used about twenty times. When I started using a new etching plate, the results improved. I also discovered that the podosiri dried out very quickly, as a result of not being able to add too much fat. The trick, then, was to apply and wipe the ink as fast as possible and to run it through the press quickly.