17 March 2007
Prep for Printing
No printing today. We had a little blizzard and after 3 hours of shoveling I didn't have enough energy left to start anything new. Janey, a friend who is just learning about woodblock printing, commented in the last post that she'd like to see this process broken down step-by-step. I haven't done that in a while so I thought I'd do it for this print, which is a fairly simple four-block print.
What happens first in the moku hanga method is that the paper must be dampened to receive the pigment. I use the Chinese brush shown above and I spread water on the back of every other sheet of paper, stacking them on top of each other and finally placing the damp stack in a plastic bag overnight. Putting a little weight on top, like a book or two, can help the water spread evenly through the stack. The paper should be just damp, not wet. New hanga printers (I did it too) almost always print too wet at first. I'm using 18 sheets for this print - the last of my paper.
The day of printing, I make up a batch of rice paste. There are commercial pre-mixed brands you can buy, but I like to mix my own from dry rice starch powder, available at McClain's. There's a recipe on the package - you cook the flour with water, like making wheat paste or a white sauce. I personally like my paste a little less thick than the McClain's recipe makes, so I use more water. Rice paste is mixed with the pigment on the block itself and makes the application of the ink smoother.
Hopefully tomorrow I'll print the first block.