18 February 2012

More on Paper Flattening

As I mentioned in a recent previous post, I've been happy with the Shikoku White paper I've been using for the Loaded series except for the fact that it's had a tendency to wrinkle and/or become wavy as I work with it. Check out that previous post for some excellent advice from people in the comments section.

 Here's a closeup photo I took of the prints hanging in my studio after being just air dried:


There are four different prints here, each in an edition of 7 or 8, and you can see that each print seems to have a characteristic wave or curl through the edition.

I tried to flatten the prints here in my studio, placing them between boards with weight on top, I got enhanced rippling plus some puckering. (A commenter to the previous post tells me that this is called "cockling" in Britain.) I felt really frustrated, so I decided to seek professional help -- I called Liz Chalfin, owner/director of Zea Mays Printmaking Studio where I teach. Liz recommended that I try their forced-air print dryer.

A forced-air print dryer, first developed at Crown Point Press, uses corrugated cardboard stacked alternately with dense smooth cardboard (Upson Board) that can be interleaved with damp prints. The whole stack is then put under pressure and air is forced through the corrugations to dry the prints. I neglected to take a photo of the Zea Mays dryer, but it looks a lot like this photo of the forced air dryer setup at Crown Point. The dryer at Zea Mays can hold 15 prints at a time. Frankly, I was skeptical, but after running a test with a few prints that didn't make it into an edition I was sold.

So yesterday I brought 14 dampened prints to Zea Mays, and this morning Joyce Silverstone and I unloaded the dryer to see what had happened (it takes two people to load and unload -- see the Crown Point article). I had 12 prints without cockling! I call that a success. Here's a photo for comparison:


The group of prints on the right are the prints that were flattened in the forced-air dryer. An added surprise was how the flattening of the paper enhanced the details of the printing, too. I'm a convert to the forced-air print dryer. Thanks Zea Mays!


moreidlethoughts said...

Very interesting, Annie, particularly for those of us in tropical climes!

Hannah said...

This is very similar to the drying system we had at the University of Georgia. I think the only difference is that we combined the wide corrugated cardboard with cotton linters instead of the dense cardboard. During the drying process you could change out the cotton linters for fresh dry ones. This keeps the print dryer from getting saturated and moldy. (especially if you have multiple printmakers using it) And facilitates a more even drying I think the Crown point system might dry the edges of the print a little bit faster.

I have been pulling large format cyanotypes on Hiromi's thin roll kitakata and have had luck drying on boards. Which is how I was told that freshly made Japanese papers is dried initially. But this particular paper seems extra problematic and the force dry system sounds like just the ticket.

PS. Are you going to SGC this year? I'd love to meet you in person!

Annie B said...

Hannah, I wish I were going to SGC! My trip to Japan last June for the mokuhanga conference took care of my travel expense account for a while. :/

Got any pix of your cyanotypes? They sound beautiful!

Wendy Willis said...

Thank you so much for this followup post. And for trailblazing the way for those of us who might follow. I am so happy for you, that you have found a reasonable and inexpensive fix for this problem. Thanks for sharing. I love how the internet provides for this kind of exchange.

Tom Kristensen said...

Well that seems to work, and good to know you have a back-up plan, but its a high-tech solution. I am pretty sure you could get the same result with boards and weights. Birch ply with a smooth face is a sufficiently absorbent surface to wick away the moisture. I usually put two prints together laid out alternately to counteract the paper stresses, ie thinning, left from the printing process. I had a couple of metal slabs cut to add weight to the top of my stack. they are 450 x 300 x 16 mm and they weigh 16 kilos each. I used to use the Webster's, but its not really heavy enough.

anczelowitz said...

That must be some of our paper from Awagami - which type of washi were you using?

Annie B said...

@anczelowitz: I know it only as "shikoku white."

anczelowitz said...

Ah - Perhaps you purchased it from Hiromi Paper in L.A...For some reason she does not like to use the Awagami original name....Good luck and happy printmaking!!

Hannah said...

I do actually have a photograph of one of the cyanotypes.

It was a bit tricky being out of school at the time. It involved a slightly too small bathtub and drying on pieces of plexiglass.

Maybe I'll find you another year. :)

Annie B said...

Your cyanotype is beautiful. Thanks for showing it.

Annie B said...

@anczelowitz: Yes, I bought it from Hiromi in California. It probably is Awagami-made, as the Hiromi web site says the paper is from Kochi, Japan.