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I am having trouble - is my paper too wet? 
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Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:05 pm
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Post I am having trouble - is my paper too wet?
I have attempted two "printing" sessions and each one has turned out in disaster.

The first session I think the paper was toooo wet. It was hard to control and position correctly in the kento marks.. Many prints came out with spots because the paper folded over. The wetness might have added to other problems, like the color seeps thru all the way to the back of the print and is almost as strong in front as in back ! The fact that the first block attempted was a large background block did not help matters....I intended to have the wood texture show thru in the background but ended up with a bunch of patchy, blotty prints....very little texture. I have since redesigned the print without this large color block.

The second attempt, the paper was "harder" and easier to control and this was not an issue. I got into my routine,,, paste, color, mix, get paper, position on kento, print, recolor left side, print, recolor right side, print, lift off, next print in about 3-5 minutes per print. However when I stacked the printed sheets on top of each other some bleeding occurred by next morning (overnight in frig). I don't think you guys use blotters in between prints...so I don't know what happen....I DID REWET my felt pads and towel as I thought the sheets were drying up a bit (stacking order: plywood, wet felt, all printed sheets, wet felt pad & towel to cover the whole thing, plywood in top for weight) . Maybe the extra weight caused the water in the felt pads to leak thru the prints ? I was kind of upset because the print session had gone well and 90% of the prints had excellent (by my standards) registration on the two medium sized blocks printed (yellow & blue next to each other). The other problem might be my pigments. There are probably not very good watercolors. I am tempted to try some water
printing ink I have or at last resort....use my acrylic paints. Could cheap watercolors cause the bleeding thru on the print ? Could I be pressing the baren too hard ? I don't think so in this last part. Aiko's has some japanese pure pigments for woodblock printing that come in shallow dishes with glue used as a binder....does that mean I don't need the rice paste mix on the block ?

I am learning a lot the hard way: by wasting precious paper ( I think I have wasted 30-40 sheets so far!). It's a japanese hand made kozo fiber...a little thinner that the one you print on. My biggest problem right now is wet paper to printing preparation. I may just take a day off to rethink things here, look at my mistakes, and evaluate the next step. I do have time to go shopping at Aiko's again this weekend, but not enough time for another major disaster.

Any advice on wetting the paper ? How long to wait ?


Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:09 pm
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Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:30 pm
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Location: Tokyo, Japan
Post Re: I am having trouble and need some advice
OK, let's give this a try ...

Quote:
The first session I think the paper was toooo wet. It was hard to control and
position correctly in the kento marks..

About the only way that I can describe how wet the paper should be ... is to say that it feels about like a piece of clothing that has just come out of the spinner, ready for hanging on the clothsline to dry. It is soft, but not soggy. If it feels really wet to the touch, then you've probably got too much water in there.

If you're in trouble, shoot for something a little on the dry side, rather than on the wet side.

Quote:
Many prints came out with spots because the paper folded over.

An 'emergency' fix for this problem is to cut a 'mask' out of a separate piece of paper. Cut out the areas that match the particular colour block you are printing, allowing a margin of about a half inch around each area.

    - rub colour over your block
    - lay the mask in place on top - the coloured parts should 'stick through'
    - put your printing paper on, and rub with the baren
    - pull off the printing paper (which should have no smudges), pull off the mask and start again for the next copy

Quote:
However when I stacked the printed sheets on top of each other some bleeding occurred by next morning overnight in frig).

Bleeding from sheet to sheet? or just within each print?

This again sounds like a case of just too much water. 'loose' water is absolute poison to printmaking. Just enough to keep the paper damp ...

Quote:
The other problem might be my pigments. There are probably not very good watercolors.

I don't think this is the problem. I've printed with tea and coffee (just for fun one day!), and got fine results. Even quite cheap pigments will still look good when pressed into good Japanese paper.

Quote:
Aiko's has some japanese pure pigments for woodblock printing that come in shallow dishes with glue used as a binder....does that mean I don't need the rice paste mix on the block ?

You still need paste. Without it the pigment will never spread smoothly on the block, nor lay in the paper properly.

Quote:
Any advice on wetting the paper ? How long to wait ?

Impossible to describe in words. With the experience I've got now, I can have a piece of paper ready in about fifteen minutes ... but as you can't get the water balance just right immediately, doing it the night before is greatly recommended.

Using lots of moist newspapers between the sheets also helps to keep the paper at a fairly constant moisture level ...

Let me know how you make out, and please try not to worry about this so much. Nobody is going to directly compare your early printing efforts with the pros in the group. We've all been there ... exactly the same
place you are now - trying to balance a hundred different variables ... without having a clue as to what is the cause when something goes wrong.

It's going to take a bit of time ..


Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:13 pm
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Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:05 pm
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Post Re: I am having trouble and need some advice
Hi Dave, Thanks for your words of support and advise.Yes I think the paper was toooo wet and that was the main reason for my problems.

Two things I will try is waiting till the paper is soft but not too limp and also stacking prints head-tails fashion.
Another possible solution is to print a different block sequence from the first try so that the colors are not adjacent & thus don't bleed together. Then go back and print the adjacent blocks at a later session when the paper is possibly a bit drier....and the first impression has taken... ?????


Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:14 pm
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Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:30 pm
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Post Re: I am having trouble and need some advice
Quote:
Two things I will try is waiting till the paper is soft but not too limp and also stacking prints head-tails fashion.

Anytime that the paper has become too wet, you can quite easily pull out some of the moisture by cutting some newsprint to the same size as your prints, and slipping these inbetween your prints one by one. Leave them there for ten/twenty minutes, and then pull them out, bringing with them a lot of the excess moisture.

(I should add that the kind of newsprint used here in Japan is quite thick and very high quality. None of the ink transfers. If your local stuff is different, you would have to use some other kind of thin paper for this job ...)


Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:15 pm
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