Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas print exchange - Wet Canvas

Things I learned this week:

1. Remember not to move the press roller height when press not engaged (it kind of pooches your very carefully aligned pressure). For those of you that use a press all the time, this is obvious; for those of us who are just learning, not so much so, especially when the person operating the press is a bit of a fluffy bunny some times (yours truly).
2. Vinyl ("black linoleum") stretches when it goes through a press (and usually on your last run, when alignment most counts).
3. If anything is going to go wrong, it'll happen when you're working on something with either a deadline, or where the recipients are knowledgeable about your media, or both.

Mom & I did a collaborative print for our Printmakers Only Group Christmas cards, as well as for a Christmas print exchange organized through the Wet Canvas printmakers forum. Mom's image is a reduction of raccoon footprint in snow, mine is of rose hips and snow berries, as a border.

First LayerSecond LayerThird Layer
And it looked great, right up until the last layer. This is what it should have looked like (this one got hand burnished, right at the end when we figured out what the heck was going on):

This is what most of them ended up looking like:

Although this is example (in the main focus of the image) is actually one of the better ones, not the worst, but you can see the examples along the bottom of the image are quite mis-aligned (the brown layer is out of alignment with the red layer). Here's the final batch:

I think that both Mom & I were maligning the Daniel Smith water soluble inks a little too carelessly; both of us had thought that the inks were causing the print to slip, hence the alignment on the layers of my Xocoatl print, and one of her prints, was definitely less than wonderful. As a result (and because we didn't have a lot of time to wait for ink to dry between layers), we used Speedball water soluble inks on this run. I was also thinking that it was my baby press that was causing the difficulties with a racking press bed for both the Xocoatl print and the print I did as a demo at the Delta "Gallery in the Garden" summer art fair (for which I used Faust inks). But as it's happening with the new large press (whose bed most definitely doesn't rack) and both were done using that black vinyl.

Now we're pretty sure that the stretching black vinyl through the press is the root of the problem. I understand about the pressure having to not be ridiculously intense, and it wasn't at the beginning, yet it seemed to get a bit stronger for the last run (even though neither of us touched the pressure adjustment between runs). Maybe the pressure was just a little strong at the end. I will try again another time with the vinyl and less pressure, and see what happens, although I have found that for enough pressure to transfer the ink uniformly and well, that results in enough pressure to stretch the vinyl, if my Xocatl and demo prints were anything to go by. I will have to try some different materials for blocks and see what happens when printed with my three ink types (Daniel Smith, Faust & Speedball) and on the two different presses.

But I do have to say, I loooooove the new press. What a joy to use. I can't wait to start creating some more stuff with it. But maybe not using that vinyl.

I tried a new (for me) registration option: the vinyl was squared into a little matboard frame, cut specifically to fit the block, and attached to the press bed. The card stock was aligned appropriately then traced onto a piece of paper taped underneath that matboard frame. So every time we went to print, we'd align the vinyl block in its little frame, then line up the card stock with the outline on the press bed.

And, if the vinyl hadn't stretched, I think the registration would have worked beautifully. Sigh.

So to those of you whom are receiving these prints, we apologize for the less than ideal alignment of the layers; it wasn't for lack of trying and apparently not from lack of consistency in methodology. At least you'll get the spirit of the print, if not the intention! One of these days, my exchange reduction prints are going to work beautifully, darn it!


Eraethil said...

Welcome back Amie! Missed your blog installments. Glad to see you being able to get back to your artwork.

Unknown said...

Thanks Rick! Nice to be doing something creative again, finally!! :)