Sunday, June 10, 2012


Well, it wasn't hard work and perseverance that got me to finish this thing. It was mold.
Mold can be seen as small black-gray spots on the yellow background.

After a spate of very cool, damp weather, it turned hot and my long days of printing and frequent interruptions led a few days ago to me pulling out the prints from the freezer and finding MOLD spots--just starting--on three of the ones I had left yellow (all on Italian paper). I think it was from my paste as I didn't make new paste every day and the mold was just in the background color on the prints and not on the unprinted paper. After a brief temper tantrum and hair-pulling and gnashing of teeth and general unpleasantness I decided to go through the whole pack.
My Japanese paper was still ok and the newsprint didn't have the smell of mold/mildew so I thought there was hope.

I posted the finished version in my last post but while I didn't have time to take process photos at least I can give an impression of how the last day of printing went.

I quickly printed a thin glaze of Naples yellow (with a few drops of chlorine bleach added) to those three that showed signs of mold (a desperate, unorthodox and probably useless gesture), isolated them from the rest (I hung them up outside hoping the UV rays would kill the mold), threw out all the old newsprint and dampened new ones and pulled out my Japanese paper (still no mold visible) and went into College All-nighter mode and spent the next 15 hours finishing up or getting them as close to finished as I risked. I'd have probably done another 2-3 impressions if I wasn't backed between fatigue and the risk of ruining too many prints and the deadline of mold erupting on all of the paper.

Over the yellow background I printed a big bokashi mauve from the top down--this looked as terrible as one can imagine (mauve over yellow made a dirty purplish brown). And things at this point looked pretty bad; I had visions that between the mold and my bad color sense I'd ruined everything. But the next color was a rich blue-green glaze/Bokashi that went over the mauve it started to get interesting. (I'd left the yellow ground intact at the bottom and a last bokashi in a burnt-umber to the bottom finished off the background. All that was left was to reprint the keyblock (it had started off carmine but with the dark background it didn't have enough contrast.) As I expected this was the hardest block and I lost 3-4 copies due to mis-registration of the two superimposed keyblock impressions. But the ones that worked were much, much better. I stayed up a few hours more shuffling them in the dry kitchen to get as much moisture out as possible (I didn't risk drying them stacked under weights) and the thin paper was pretty much dry when I finally tossed in the towel and went to bed.

The final tally:
Seven Shina plywood blocks; about 15-17 impressions.
Today I signed and numbered what ended up being a very small edition.
I ended up with an E.V. of 10 decent copies. In addition, there are about 5 Artist proofs/working proofs in the intermediate stages (yellow/green/blue-green backgrounds) or on different papers. (and I counted about 20-25 proofs/rejects/trial copies/test prints) that represent a good 10 sheets of etching paper; a few sheets of Shin Torinoko; and 8 full sheets of Hosokawa Japanese paper and 4 of Hosho.

In the process I've learned a lot:
How to handle and print on thin Japanese papers using a carry sheet to aide registration--it can be done.
How to size my own paper if I have to.
My home-sized paper had a little too much size--some of the speckling is from that,but I needed the extra size on this print. This thin, 39g/m2 weight paper took a beating: the background alone ended up with 5 impressions printed on almost the whole sheet with both a normal and ball-bearing barens and I could have kept going--the paper was still fine. No pilling, no tearing, no delamination of fibers, no bleeding.
(Hosokowa Elfenbein (imported in Europe by JAPICO) listed variably as 80-90%Kozo, 10-20% pulp.)
How to NOT leave DAMP paper in a plastic bag for days on end without taking care to put in freezer/fridge while not working (I knew this already but wasn't paying attention).

The three yellow moldy ones are probably a lost cause but I'm not ready to throw them out.

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