Excessive Pressure on a Texture Plate

Posted by Roberta Pihl on

Every now and then I will get a message from someone saying that there is something wrong with a texture plate they received, and that they believe that it's not holding up to par because they feel like it is the steel or my particular process for making them when in fact it's actually that they're using too much pressure on the tool itself. This can actually cause damage to not only the texture plate, but also your mill. So let's go ahead and see if the issue you are having is in fact the tool itself or perhaps just the result of excessive pressure and how to avoid it!
Some clear indications of excessive pressure are:
* There is a dent/warping/excessive wear on the texture plate where the metal was impressed. (See also: How NOT to Dent Your Texture Plate)
For many people who use excessive pressure, it is due to a lack of understanding of what that tool is supposed to do and how to get it to perform as expected. The initial expectation for beginners is sometimes that the artist is supposed to press their silver hard enough to actually mimic the depth of the design on the plate. I call this "bottoming out." What these plates are supposed to do is transfer an image over to your annealed silver or copper, but not nearly as deep as some of these designs can be on the plate. NEVER bottom out your metal on a texture plate! If you're going that deep then you're definitely using too much pressure! While the image isn't supposed to be terribly faint, its absolutely not supposed to be extra deep. The depth of the plate does not determine how deep the impression should be.
Finer designs also require less resistance to impress your metal, and too much pressure can cause those designs to wear quicker. Some texture plates will last longer than others, but they should all still last a very long time and every artist can maximize their profits off their plates when they're being used properly. Designs with very small details or fine lines that are raised (See: Lillian's Baroque Anaglypta) will wear down quicker than the ones with a lot of raised negative space (See: Small Egyptian Hieroglyphs.)  Heavier raised areas have more resistance to pressure than a very fine detail does and can withstand more pressure - but that doesn't mean you can't damage or wear the thicker design out with too much compression. It just means it will last longer. I recommend that designs with very fine designs be used with less pressure than the ones with a lot of raised negative space: consider it a form of maintenance to keep your designs lasting longer - and remember, DO NO BOTTOM YOUR METAL OUT ON YOUR PLATES! 
* The plate has curved drastically with minimal use.
Shown above is an image of a texture plate I have had since I began making these a few years ago. This plate has had over 100 rolls on it and as you can see, it IS curved - noticeably albeit not terribly. All texture plates will curve over time with use and sometimes (though not often) they will get a slight curve on the first use and then just stay that way. It is absolutely unavoidable. But while it does take pressure to transfer an image, most of the time it doesn't take as much as some artists think: and the actual amount of pressure isn't an exact science because that depends solely on the artist's own strength as well as the mill they use. Strength and pressure are not the same thing. What I can do using a hand crank PePe Tools or Durston mill may be easier or harder for another artist using the same amount of compression. The results are the indication that you are doing it right, and if you are capable of rolling hard enough that the actual plate curves excessively, then you're definitely using too much force. 
For more information on the various ways to use your texture plates please visit me on YouTube and check out some of my videos! (Click Here!) Please keep in mind that these videos are just recommendations, but everyone has their own way of using these tools. All artists should practice with their texture plates using annealed scrap before moving on to work on actual products in progress. Each one is a little different. 
Happy Creating! <3


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