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.

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