14 October 2009

Big Print, Big Registration Issues

"Making art provides uncomfortably accurate feedback about the gap that inevitably exists between what you intended to do and what you did." Art & Fear, pg. 4


I knew I had good reason to be afraid of this Vast Unpeopled Lands print, and I was pretty sure that the main reason to fear was the fact that it's so big. I'm using a half-sheet of Nishinouchi, so the paper is 21 x 29 in / 53 x 74 cm and the block shown above is 20 x 30 in / 50 x 76 cm. I've discovered that the bigger the print the more difficult registration becomes. I knew that the tightest registration on this print would be the constellations, because they're composed of fairly thin carved lines that create white areas in the ink of the printed sky. Any off-registration on the multiple passes necessary to get a gradation in the sky printing would fill in the white lines.

On Monday I went into the studio and did a first pass. Not bad. Then yesterday I printed the sky again to darken it and that's when the trouble started. I do love the Japanese kento system. Because it's so reliable, I did manage to get quite a few acceptable prints in my little run of 10 sheets of paper, but I also got some real bad ones. Have a look:


If you look at the photo of the block at the beginning of this post, you can see that I put the corner kento at the bottom right. If I had thought it through and put the kento at the top where the sky is (and printed "upside down") the registration would have been much easier, because the closer to the kento the better the registration. It would have been even better if I had used a kento notch instead of the corner as I did on my Three Prophets prints.

Obviously the top print in the photo above is not salvageable, but many of them are just a little "fuzzy" in the corner farthest from the kento, like the one in the middle in the photo above.

Another thing I've learned over time is not to act out of panic. I walked out of the studio yesterday after I had fuzzied up the prints and I didn't go back in again until this afternoon. I needed to just let it percolate until I knew what to do next. And then I knew -- I could hand paint with some white ink the color of the paper. So I tried hand painting on one print. Here's how it came out:


I like it a lot, so this is what I'm going to do on all of them. Since I'm going to be adding quite a bit of moisture to these prints as I continue adding layers and I'm not sure how the painted-on ink will react to water, I'll wait until the end to do the rest. But at least I can relax, knowing that I have a fix for this. Phew! Art is scary.


Terry Peart said...

Excellent solution. I always say the difference between professionals and hobbyists is that when the professionals make mistakes,they know how to fix them.
And that statement, "art is scary" cracked me up! It may be true, but I never thought of it that way.

Anonymous said...

One thing you can try is using a carrier sheet to hold the paper totally in control...also nail polish on the corners to keep them square. You are right about printing upside down, I do that a lot so I can get the deckle at the bottom of the print.
Good solution to this problem. You are amazing in your productivity.
My best

Carpet Bomberz Inc. said...

Hello Annie,

Maybe some liquid frisket can be painted on after the first color is laid down? Let the successive layers register where they may then rub the frisket off after the last layer is printed. If the edges still look too soft then you just paint once at the very end. I never learned about frisket until after I graduated with a B.F.A. because it's something the Graphic design folks used. And I never took those classes. And since then I've seen pro water color demonstrations on PBS that are nearly 50% frisket painting at the beginning before all the painting even begins.

Pistoles Press said...

Oh the dreaded issues of large print registration! Why do we continue to punish ourselves with these activities?! .....because it's fun....in a sick sort of way :P
Great job, Annie, and I hope it turns out!
I love the way the additional white ink really makes the constellations pop!

d. moll, l.ac. said...

LOL Art is Scary, if I don't get to the point where I wonder what I'm doing and think I'm a fool for trying I know the result won't be interesting.....ART IS SCARY could be the follow up volume to Art& Fear. PS love your solution.

Sharri said...

Ahhh, come on Fearless - we know that you can do this. Printing upside down is my usual and sometimes I print with the paper upside down, too. However, your solution is perfect. I love the problem solving part of art - it is what keeps my brain clicking. Can't wait for the next installment in Vast Unpeopled Lands...

Annie B said...

Thanks you guys! What wonderful suggestions. Yes to using a carrier sheet - going to try that on the next round.

And Carpet Boberz, frisket is a *brilliant* idea! Thanks for that.

And thanks for the book idea: Art Is Scary. Look for it at Amazon next year :)