In the first post about the process of this linocut I mentioned that I was distracted and unfocused during the time I worked on it... which has been super clear from the erratic photo documentation! The funny thing is that when I started the image I had designs on thoroughly documenting it and making a video of the process. But when the warping problem became apparent fairly early on... well. Not a good candidate for video documentation if the whole thing ended up being scrap paper.
So let's not prolong the agony, shall we? Let's roll up some ink and finish this thing.
|Step 8 ink rollup|
Wow. Okay. That's some ink, alright. I did say I wanted to break up all that green... but this seems like a bit... extra. It's so orange! Remember your color theory, though. Red and green are opposites on the color wheel, with a tendency to dull each other down and, I hope, create a warm brown.
Still, it must have seemed like a lot at the time, because I have no photos of what the image looked like at this stage. Coward.
But it's clear I did create a ninth color pass, because there are two values of what reads as a brown in the final image. It looks like this!
|"Bobolink," reduction linocut, 7" x 5" - Edition of 20|
There are a few more little darks in the green areas of the vegetation as well as the second value of brown, so I'm guessing the final pass was one last transparent gray.
So here we are. The images look nice... I managed to hold the registration together even though the paper was so warped. But when I say "so warped," I mean So. Warped.
I mentioned in previous posts that I knew this was a problem fairly early on, and that the issue kept compounding as I carried on with printing. It was not a problem of too much press pressure. The block was not pressing into the paper enough to cause any embossment. But the ambient humidity was enough that even light press pressure was enough to stretch the paper.
About halfway through the process I did stop and try to flatten them. I was away teaching for a week when the prints were about half finished, so I stacked them under glass and weights and hoped for the best. It did help. A little. But as you can see in this photo, it wasn't enough, and by the time I finished all the color passes I had prints that were so wobbly they couldn't be made to lay flat even under a mat.
Time for Plan B.
I was away for another week at the beginning of September, which was enough time for the finished prints to dry completely.
There are many reasons why I prefer to use traditional oil-based inks for my prints, but this Challenge of the Warped Linocuts added another to the list. Once the prints were dry, a little water wasn't going to hurt them. At least I didn't think it would. Luckily I had a few "reject" prints to experiment with.
I first tried just spraying one side of the paper with a light spritz of water and tacking the print out on a board. It helped a little, but not enough.
Desperate times called for desperate measures. Enter Plan C! I took the prints to the sink and ran cold water over both sides of the paper. Yep. I held my prints under the faucet. I pressed them between sheets of blotter paper until they were merely damp, and then taped them out on a board like watercolors (or etchings):
And it worked! Whew. Luckily I had printed these with plenty of paper margin, because of course the tape damaged the edges of the paper. But there's plenty of extra to trim these down and still have a nice image with plenty of space.
As I am writing this, we are just saying goodbye to the remnants of Hurricane Lee, which blew through here yesterday. The air behind it is cooler and drier than we've had in a while, and I'm hopeful that we've left the worst of heat and humidity behind for a while. I'm not sure what the next image will be, but I'm looking forward to working on it without warping issues.
And I'm happy to know that a solution I have long regarded as theoretical has turned out to be viable. Just in case.