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October 22, 2006

A bit over a week since the previous update ... things are still moving along!

The main focus of the last few days of proofing has been to try and find a good way of printing the metallic kimono patterns. For the original painting, he seems to have used real gold and silver - as the gold areas are still bright, but the silvery areas have become black and oxidized. It's difficult to tell from the small image I have, but it looks like gold and silver leaf.

Using leaf isn't really a practical alternative for me, as each small area of each pattern of every single copy of the print would have to be applied by hand, and that would take simply more time than is possible. I need a printable solution. What I've come up with is a combination of techniques; I use a roller to apply some yellow-tinted ink to the pattern block (there are two of these, one each for gold and silver), take a lightly-pressed impression, and then dust the wet area with metal powder. (This is done with the paper dried.) I then use a very soft brush to sweep away the unwanted powder, leaving the pattern showing clear and bright.

It seems to be working well, but I haven't yet got around to taking some clear photos of the process ... I'll get to that a bit later. For today, I'd like to show you something else instead ... I'm going to tear this print in half!

I'm going to do this with one of the proof prints, just after the metals are finished. At this stage, it's basically 'done', and ready for a test mounting. Here it is, lying face-down on the workshop floor:

Starting at one corner, I tease the paper until it starts to come apart ...

... and then simply rip away the back half of the sheet:

The quite bright colour you see here demonstrates clearly just how much of the pigment in a Japanese print gets down deep into the paper. We are looking at the back side of the print! I keep pulling, bit by bit gently ... Here it's almost half done ...

And here's the result ... still face down ... the print is now thin! I have no way to measure it to give you a number, but it's around the same apparent thickness as a typical tissue. It is now ready to be mounted on silk backing, and can be rolled up tightly with no damage!

But I think you probably want to see what the front looks like, so let's head upstairs to the library, and hang it up in the same place I put it a few days ago ...

The metallic areas are reflecting in the camera flash, but I think you get the idea. She's looking very nice now, and I think the waiting collectors are going to be pretty pleased with this one!

Next step - send this sample off to the scroll mounters (in Beijing), while I get ready for 'real' printing of the first actual batch ...