Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sizing Disaster

One good corner....
I'll lead in with the one good corner of the one good (well, usable) half sheet from my first attempt at sizing my own paper. I used--I thought--a relatively weak recipe:
45g rabbit-skin glue to 23 g alum to one liter of water.
Sizing pot/double boiler
Work Station

But before anyone thinks they want to follow my example here are the rest of the sheets:

I think my size was too strong--too much gelatin anyway-- and I tried stacking the sheets to "even out the moisture" but even after the 4-5 minutes I needed to brush out 5-6 half sheets, I couldn't then get them apart, and attempting to pull them apart they stretched and pulled fibers off. The paper was a bit soft and thin and once dampened with size it just got too soft and rippled with the moisture. Those ripples became creases and areas that would catch the size and while I didn't get any dripping there was definitely too much size at the R and top side of the paper where the brush, moving R to L would touch down.
The one decent sheet I got was one I brushed out alone, immediately hanging it to dry.

They didn't look too bad hanging but they dried curled, uneven, puckered and mottled.
Despite the damp outside, our indoor heating (radiant floor and bright dry day inside) I think contributed to the paper drying too fast.

At any rate--it is almost completely to trash--I did cut down the better halves of each sheet and I'll try printing on them; I hope when they are dampened and printed on they might even or flatten out a bit but I fear that the wavy bits will dry that way even once they're printed.

I have a few ideas for next time and despite this result, I do want to have another try:

--more hands. A helper would have been very helpful--hanging the sheets was more of a hassle/problem than I imagined (clothespins didn't hold, pieces fell off...)
--smaller 1/2 liter batch to try 3-4 sheets only--I didn't use all the size I made and wanted just enough to be able to fill the brush and try it out.
--half the gelatin--I think it was just too thick/gluey.
--hang each sheet as soon as it is brushed rather than trying to stack them.
--turn off the heat in the room where they'll dry. I need to slow the drying time down so they don't curl so much.

On the good side the small pieces of paper that don't look too bad have a nice feel.
The 40g/m2 paper that was a bit thin and soft definitely has more body and feels like it would be good to print on if it wasn't just so badly sized.


  1. I cant help wondering where you got THAT recipe?

  2. From Toshi Yoshida's guidebook "Japanese Printmaking-1966.
    (Borrowed from Dave Bull's website/page has a pretty decent overview of different sizing recipes all converted to 1L/sizes.
    Yoshida's recipe is actually 63g glue to 24-30g Alum/Liter (I had cut it down to 40).
    I suspect they were working with thicker/heavier paper.
    (J.Platt's and Walter Phillips used much weaker recipes:
    16g glue/9g alum; and 7.5g glue/3.5g alum respectively.
    His list of recipes can be found here: