Tuesday, February 13, 2018

More Dogs--paper trials, part one.

Two variants from my first test printings on BOND paper.
I have acquired some very interesting Japanese papers from a variety of sources and I'll be discussing these in the next several posts as I also show my progress on my YOTD (year of the dog) print. After proofing, a did a small test run of about 20 copies on some of these papers, in anticipation of doing more careful test printings on the papers that looked promising. But before I reveal my sources for some of these wonderful kozo, gampi and mixed fiber papers, I wanted to share some real surprises regarding some cheap but really viable alternatives.

1) Double-weight Bond paper, coated for the inkjet printer.
Those who have taken my workshops already know about this. The double-weight bond paper (160g/m2)that I can get at my local copy shop and stationery store is coated for the inkjet printer--and I discovered that it's perfect for proofing. I use it for checking how the blocks print to see if they need additional clearing and for controlling the registration of multiple blocks or for the first, "waste" printings from the blocks before the brushes and blocks are charged with ink. The paper is pure cellulose, but dampened in my damp pack it is heavy enough to be easy to handle, and is very smooth but not so soft as to dip into the negative spaces. I like to print my keyblock on multiple sheets, and then I can check each color block against the key block to check for alignment.
These copies made it through the whole print sequence and they're a little flat, but at about $8.00 for a ream of paper, who cares.
They are NOT Acid free, they are NOT archival, I don't sell these but I do give them away to those that I know probably throw my prints away after a few weeks...

2) MASA paper 86g/m2 from the Awagami paper factory. The Japanese paper company Awagami has a large inventory of papers for printmaking and they've been actively seeking to expand in Europe and the USA with paper samples, a print exhibition and competition and by sponsoring workshops and teaching centers. I've had some problems with their papers being inconsistently sized.  Some papers that I've carefully tested from their sample packs behaved differently when purchased from paper distributors or when purchased at different times due to the variation from batch to batch of the size (dosa) applied to the papers.
But I keep trying their papers as I keep getting sample packs gifted to me and I recently began using the very inexpensive MASA --a handmade, sulfite paper that is both internally and surface sized. I can get it from Les Papiers de Lucas in France (https://les-papiers-de-lucas.com/papier-japonais-traditionnel/1573-masa-awagami-86g-m2-blanc.html)--along with many other good papers--and it's less than €2.00/sheet.
Awagami MASA-
It's a little soft, and if too wet it can dip into the block recesses and pick up ink blotches, but if I print a little drier, and give the paper time to rest, it prints surprisingly well.   This copy was printed from 6 blocks and has 8 layers of color.

In comparison; here's a proof on their Hosho select. This was a paper that performed really well from the sample packs, but when I ordered the paper from a distributor, the paper that arrived was totally different. Superficially similar but it had laid lines instead of none, and NO sizing added to the paper which I discovered during a workshop when I tried to dampen it for students.
However, once I applied a heavy recipe of dosa(rabbit skin glue and alum), it is now behaving like a mokuhanga paper and here is a print on this home-sized version of Awagami's Hosho select.
Awagami Hosho Select with Added Dosa

In my next post, I'll describe some professional grade and student-level papers from some small family-run workshops from Japan and Korea.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Year of the Dog-Work in Progress

Once I finish this print for the "Year of the Dog" I will have completed the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac for the BarenForum's artist exchange I've been participating in since 2007.
I've been working on this for a bit--and had lots of thumbnails and sketches before settling on a sketch of our rescued Segugio Italiano--an Italian Scenthound--that we adopted about 1 1/2 years ago.

He's a handsome and sweet fellow, but he is a dog that was used for hunting, and will disappear for hours if we let him loose, following the lingering scent of the hares and deer and boars that roam our fields at night.

My sketches started as silly cartoons and gradually became more and more representative as I looked at photo references and repeatedly sketched him in the kitchen.  Once I was happy with a  final drawing, it was copied using a xerox machine and these copies then glued down onto multiple blocks for carving to serve as guides for cutting.

There is one cherry plywood block for the key block (black lines).

There are two shina plywood blocks and another 2 Okoume' plywood blocks to mimic the dog's fur and textures.

All the blocks are carved and each print their own portion of this layered mosaic--and now I hope that I can make the sum of each layer better than the individual blocks.

Here are some early proofs; I still need to trim a few edges, adjust 1-2 kentos and decide on the colors.

He's an orange-brown dog, so I'll try to go for a greenish blue background but getting his color right (these are too orange) is going to be the key to getting the print to work as much as getting a background that isn't too aggressive.