11 August 2005
Preparing the Paper
The blocks for the "tea" print are carved and it looks like I'll have some time in the next few days to do some printing, so I'm preparing the paper today. I'll be using Rives Heavyweight again because I still have a lot of it from my last order. I cut down nine 19" x 26" sheets to make thirty six 7" x 10" sheets for the prints. I figure I'll lose 5 or 6 prints just from experiments and probably a few more from errors (I'm still awfully green at this) so I'm looking for an edition of about 25 prints.
Once the paper is cut to size, I get out some plastic and some distilled water and wet the papers. I lay a sheet down and wet it well using the wide soft brush pictured above, which is not a Japanese brush but a Chinese brush I found at my local art store. I put two dry sheets on top of the one I just wet, and then wet the new top one, building the stack with one wet and one dry sheet. Then a damp towel and a sheet of plastic go over the stack. After several hours the stack is re-moistened, restacked, covered and left overnight so the moisture can spread evenly through the papers.
Experienced moku hanga printmakers say that the best adjective to describe paper that is properly moistened and ready for printing is not "wet" or even "damp," but "soft."
Hopefully, tomorrow my paper will be properly soft, and I'll be ready to mix pigment colors and do some test printing.
NOTE on Aug 13 - I wasn't able to find the time to print as planned, but I have nice wet paper all set to go. In a case like this, especially in hot humid weather, the damp paper can be put in the refrigerator to keep it from getting moldy!