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Size matters - the first test batch!

Posted by Dave Bull at 8:54 AM, July 30, 2010

This thread about paper sizing is continued from here, and started here.

After all the preparation, it was finally time today to give my new sizing 'system' its first test!

I spent most of the afternoon at it, and I can tell you - this is not an easy job! Not that I thought it would be, but it has nonetheless made me realize that this is going to need a lot of practice to pull off properly. After all, I'm trying to make the jump from 'zero' to 'professionally acceptable' all in one go ...

Anyway, I did indeed take a lot of photos as I went along (with my camera's self-timer), but instead of putting them here on the RoundTable, where they will soon disappear into the untraceable maze, never to surface again, I thought it would make more sense to put them in a 'Sizing Process' page over in my Encyclopedia.

So please jump over there and have a look:



This thread about sizing continues here.


Following comment posted by: Annie B on July 30, 2010 11:12 PM

One of the things I so admire about you is your commitment to doing whatever it takes to get the product you want and your fearlessness in diving right in to figure it out. Thanks for posting the details in your Encyclopedia, and for showing your "mistakes." Understanding the learning curve involved will be very helpful for anyone else who wants or needs to try this.

Following comment posted by: eli griggs on July 31, 2010 1:58 AM

David, did you have to make special considerations for your water supply when compounding the size?

If you have a moment, would you please post a close-up of the hangers you are using?

Following comment posted by: Dave on July 31, 2010 7:15 AM

I'm using straight tap water - here in Ome it is very clean. I don't think there is any necessity for using distilled, or anything like that.

As for the hangers, we saw those close-up a few days ago!

Following comment posted by: Marc Kahn on August 1, 2010 1:09 AM

I'm eagerly looking forward to the next chapter in this saga, the printing test.

What will be the process of that test? What will you print on the subject sheets? How will you evaluate each subject sheet for success vs. failure?

My guess is that first you'll print a flat application of color (as if a background) and that you'll evaluate it looking for a smooth, even uptake of the pigment. Second, you'll print a complicated pattern (perhaps a keyblock) and look for crisp lines with no bleeding. Is that a good guess?

I always enjoy your willingness to allow all interested people to figuratively look over your shoulder.

Following comment posted by: Dave on August 1, 2010 1:39 AM

the printing test ...

That was all supposed to be happening today (Saturday), but it didn't. Late Friday evening, just after I finished drying the test sheets, I got a call from young printer Ueda-san. Paraphrasing, the conversation went kind of like this:

Ueda: Dave, can you maybe come over tomorrow?

Dave: Geez ... I'm right in the middle of that sizing test I was telling you about ...

Ueda: Well OK, but there is something here that I think you should see ...

Dave: More important than this work ... ?

He then explained what was going on, and once I heard it, I cancelled my plans for the printing test and arranged to head over to his place (which is unfortunately right over on the other side of Tokyo ...) I got back a short time ago, having spent most of the day in his living room, inspecting the new treasure.


Meiji-era blocks.

Practically unprinted Meiji-era blocks.

More than 1000 practically unprinted Meiji-era blocks!

He came across this hoard the other day at an auction he was attending as a buyer (not open to the public, but he has an antique dealer's license.) He bid. He won. And now, there they are in his house:


We only scratched the surface of the stash ... opening up a few of the 'trays' (there are 35 in all). It's quite a mix of stuff. Kuchi-e type illustrations and book plates make up the bulk of what we looked at so far.

Most of them have every appearance of having been duplicated by electrotyping directly after carving, so the original wooden blocks would have then been set aside, without becoming worn.

We're both pretty much stunned by this, and aren't quite sure how to proceed. He has to think of something fairly soon, because he dumped a bunch of money on this, and has to recoup at least a good percentage of it so that he can continue his book buying/selling business. But he agreed not to sell any of these, at least not until we've had a chance to study them properly, and glean what info we can ...

In the meantime, tomorrow morning I have to get back to my sizing tests ... If I can pay attention to what I am supposed to be doing!

Following comment posted by: Tom Kristensen on August 1, 2010 11:48 PM


Following comment posted by: James on August 2, 2010 12:02 AM

I hope you'll keep us informed of this antique woodblock saga as well.

Following comment posted by: Lee on August 4, 2010 1:10 AM

I just started drooling... what an exciting find!!!

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