Photo Prints on Metal

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While fabric printing is a bit of a flirt with manufacturing – printed professionally – the prints on metal are a dig into cottage industry. Looking for something more like darkroom printing, I teamed up with a couple of friends to see if we could master the process of putting ink to metal roof flashing. We picked up an old Epson printer and some rolls of metal flashing, and sander an a variety of pre-coats. It took us almost two years to come up with a slightly reliable process.

The images here were created for a joint show where my theme was music. I pulled a collection of collages together from Buenos Aires (01, 02), Salt Spring Island, B.C., bluegrass and blues. The goal was to float the images on the metal behind them, playing with transparency, translucence, and solid color. The point was to make the process more obvious, to take away the uniformity of digital prints on paper to make the surface more a part of the image.

Each of the images is printed and then sealed so that it is safe to touch. For some reason, while a print on paper seems to say hands off, the metal has an unreal quality that makes people want to touch it to see that the image is really there.