Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Technical head-scratching. Please stand by.

Not much left on this block!

There's some weirdness going on in Studio V.

Yesterday and today I put a few more colors down on the ibis linocut (we're up to 10 now), but it looks like the last two colors are going to need to wait a few days. I'm bumping up against some technical hiccups that I haven't encountered in a looonnnngggg time, and I'm not sure what to do except wait for everything to dry before moving on.

Bits of pink legs and bills, and lavender water. Good.

I've got me some fuzzies. And I don't mean the warm and cuddly kind. Remember I said a few days ago that I was experiencing a bit of paper-pulling from what I assumed was too-wet ink? I hoped it was that I didn't yet understand the temperature and humidity ambiance of a new space and just needed to let things set a couple of days longer than usual. Which I did.

Dark green for wings: Good. Paper fuzzies: Bad.

Today, however, I got back to work and ran into problems again.. and more of them. They're centered in the bird bodies of the image... the place with the most ink layers. Yep, I've still got paper fuzzies. Lots of them. Enough that I had to clean off the block for every inking of the most recent color. That ain't right.

I have two main suspects. The first is the paper. I like the domestically available Hosho "pro" because it's a bright white sheet, but the last few batches I've purchased have been less and less consistent. Paper thickness varies from one end of the sheet to the other, and where once there was a clear difference between the "smooth" side and the "soft" side the texture seems more nebulous. Overall I think this batch of paper is just too soft... I had a difficult time telling which side was which and there were lots of little loose fuzzy bits before I even started.

The other suspect is, I'm sorry to say, the transparent medium. Usually I use the Graphic Chemical tint base extender when I want a transparent ink, but I ran out and a new can is on backorder. I used some Daniel Smith transparent medium that I had in a drawer. I remembered that I didn't like using it when I bought it (too sticky), but a) I was desperate and b) I thought maybe I'd become a better printmaker and I'd be able to work around it.

Apparently not.

Mind you, I LOVE Daniel Smith inks. I use the oil-based relief inks almost exclusively and they're beautiful. But I dunno what happened when they formulated the transparent base. It's just not right.

So keep your fingers crossed that I'll still be able to salvage this piece once everything has had a few days to de-tackify. I hate having to wait, but what are you gonna do?

Start a different one tomorrow, I guess. ;-)


  1. Hi Sherrie.

    There's another couple of things you can try, either now or in future. If you're working with a lot of layers many relief printmakers add a couple of drops of a liquid called cobalt driers to the ink to ensure it dries quicker.

    The second thing to do with thick tacky layers is to try to 'strip' it back. With this you put unused newsprint (unprinted newspaper weight paper) over the print and press down and across the print on the back of the newsprint with your hand to 'absorb' and 'pick up' as much excess ink as possible. Keep doing this with fresh newsprint until you can't blot up any more off the print.

    Hope these ideas help a little.

  2. Thanks, Tracy. I do use cobalt drier sometimes, but I thought I was working thinly enough to avoid it.

    But I haven't tried stripping before, so we'll see what everything looks like there tomorrow. It doesn't seem like there's too much ink... but it's worth a try!

  3. See, this is why coming here is such a smart move - I always learn something.
    I was going to ask if you'd tried "blotting" which is what Tracy calls stripping.
    Also...I bought some Hosho once and found it to be completely different from the previous batch. The shop assured me it was the same, but when we looked at the label(all Japanese) we could see several characters(Kanji?) were different.This does not solve your problem, but maybe it's worth keeping the wrapper for future comparison?
    Being you, you will find a way around this!

  4. Sorry, I can't offer any suggestions. Not even rubbish ones. When I read that you've done ten colours, I started to hyperventilate. The page was swimming by the end of that sentence. Good luck!

  5. Wow...patience is not (ahem) one of my virtues so I share your pain...but all this is greek to me so I am standing by waiting for the end of the saga. Good luck as i am loving these birds.

  6. My experience with paper & ink lifting happened only on occasions when the ink hadn't dried completely. My theory (but not researched) is that the tack of the ink you are applying exceeds the 'grip' the previous layers have on each other and they in turn offer more pull than the paper can resist.
    I let the prints dry for a few days and everything was fine. I vaguely remember backing off the pressure a wee bit as well.

  7. Sherrie,
    I feel your pain. Don't you hate it when something you have done repeatedly no longer works? But I love the challenge too! I agree with your other readers to let the ink dry as being helpful. Blotting too can help but if you have ink that already isn't covering it can lift off more than you want. I, of course, don't have a solution for THAT, but re: transparent base, I completely ruined a 2 day monotype (which I treat like a reduction lino with a color for each layer) by using Etching Transparent Base. But I LOVE Gamblin's Relief Transparent Base. I use a little for everything now. Great buttery consistency. Haven't had a problem yet. I will be watching to see how your print fares from here. xxoo