This print will have a lot fewer color applications than most of the prints I make. It looks like there will be just five layers. The first three were background layers -- a yellow and then a couple of layers of brown along the edges, making a kind of circular bokashi (fade).
Onto this base I then printed the fourth layer, the George Washington block. I wanted the darker corners of the background to push his facial features forward a little.
One more layer to go.
Technically, this has been a hard piece to print. All of the money prints have been hard to print, actually, just because they're so large. Registration is difficult at this size and there's a lot of paper expansion as moisture gets added with successive overprintings.
There have been some issues with the paper I chose as well. My favorite paper for moku hanga has been Echizen Kozo from McClain's, but it costs between $27-$30 per sheet. I've used 50 sheets for these 5 prints, which would have cost me between $1350 and $1500 if I had used the Echizen Kozo. I couldn't afford it! Plus, McClain's has been out of stock on the Echizen Kozo for several months.
So I tried Shikoku White from Hiromi Paper, at $5.75 per sheet. This paper is a machine-made blend of pulp, kozo and hemp. It's great for the dollar bill series because it feels kind of like cotton, a little the way currency feels. It takes ink well, stands up to the baren, and the inks stay bright even when the paper dries, but there's one drawback: the Shikoku White has had a tendency to wrinkle and/or become wavy as I work with it. Here's a photo from the Prominent Printmakers show that just opened in New Hampshire:
You can see that the prints wrinkled quite a bit when sandwiched between foam core and plexiglass. I probably should have framed and matted them, but live and learn. Anyway, I tried an experiment for this print. I brought the 10 sheets I had selected for the George Washington print to Zea Mays studio and ran them through the press there to pre-stretch the paper (this is called calendering the paper). I wanted to see if the paper would behave any differently if it was pre-stretched.
It did not behave any differently. It has a gentle wave in it, just as it has for the past four prints.