Step One ...
The first stage in the printing of this design is the beta-ban. Can you see the light toned strip running around the edge of the sheet? That is the original tone of the paper - the 'colour' you see in the centre of the paper was printed by this step. The block is simply a flat rectangular shape, and the impression is taken with paste and very slightly tinted water.
There are a number of benefits from this:
- to add some tone to the paper, and remove the clean bright white feeling ...
- to flatten the paper. As you will see later, this design will cover the entire surface of the sheet - except the face. If the paper was not flattened like this, the untouched paper in that area would be full and thick, and the face would look grotesquely ballooned and 'fat'.
- to 'kill' the rough surface of the sheet, leaving it flat and smooth for the important next stage - printing the delicate key block.
- to make it unnecessary to use 'double impressions' for some of the colours. Without this beta-ban, areas of wide colour will not go on smoothly, and have to be done twice.
You should also be able to see, down in the lower right corner, a stain left by the nail polish that I applied to the paper at that point. The registration on this print will be critical in subsequent stages, and without this reinforcement, the soft corner of the moist paper would become damaged during the long printing process, making registration very difficult.