13 December 2005

Those Pesky Fibers

Next I cut out a lot of little squares and applied the last color, a deep teal blue. What a mess! Every time I lifted a printed sheet off the block, little tufts of paper fibers would be stuck to the board. (You can click on the photo above for a larger view.) My first line of attack was to wipe the board after each print, but this wasn't adequate. The fibers rolled up into little balls when I re-inked the block, ruining the next print.

Next I tried washing the block after each impression. This worked as far as getting rid of the fibers, but made it impossible to get any consistency between prints. One of the things that happens in moku hanga when printing an edition is that the pigment builds up on the block and the brush so that after a few prints you only have to add a little bit of paste and/or pigment to get a nice impression. Washing the block after each print ruined that effect.

I wondered if the paper was just too darn wet after having been overprinted twice already, so I decided to dry all the prints and start over. I let them dry overnight, then very very slightly re-moistened them. No improvement! Fibers were once again sticking to the block. I finally finished the edition by washing the block after each impression.

It was a very frustrating experience, but I did manage to get some nice prints. This may in fact be my favorite print so far. Here's the final version:


Marissa L. Swinghammer said...

There is no question about it for me. This is my favorite of your prints. Nicely done! How many good prints did you manage to get? Sorry about your frustrations and I hope you find somebody that can help you with this problem. If so can you try reprinting or is this a reduction print?

Mike Lyon said...

Try some 'good' paper -- so you won't have this problem again -- best I've found are the Kazuo Yamaguchi and Iwano Ichibei hosho available from Baren Mall!

-- Mike Lyon

Anonymous said...

This is a lovely print - I think your problem was only your choice of paper. Please try Mr. Yamaguchi's paper available on the Baren Mall. I resisted and used cheaper papers, even though Baren people kept telling me to use Mr. Y's. Finally, I broke down and tried it and it is all the difference in the world. I also like one from McClain's, but I've forgotten the name of it - it is about $20 a sheet, but they are large sheets.

Annie B said...

OK OK OK, I'm convinced. The next time I buy paper it will be Yamaguchi san's paper! Sharri, like you I've been resistant. Certainly because of cost but even more so because I'm still such a beginner and I don't want to "waste" really good paper. You know the feeling? I figured middle-grade paper would be good for my middle-grade efforts.

I did manage to get 15 prints in this edition that I'm satisfied with.

Anonymous said...

Hi Annie,

If you find yourself peeling the print off the block then you are also likely to be tugging at the paper structure. Any grade of paper will come apart if it is adhering to the block. I use shioji washi from the Baren Mall which is great but I have had occassional loose fibres. The fibres lifting from the paper surface can be a result of using an ink paste mix that is too tacky. if you have a lot of gum in the ink this can be a problem. Your paste may be too sticky, add some water. If you back off the pressure on the baren and print two or three lighter impressions you may keep the fibres from pulling free. If you do find a dastardly fibre mark you should be able to pick it off the block and save the next print. If you leave it there it will reappear elsewhere in the next print. Sometimes it is only a couple of these little guys moving around that create the impresion of chaos.
Nice print in spite of the fibres - and after all the rope theme would call for a few loose strands.

Annie B said...

Tom, I think you've hit upon the problem. It was only on that last impression that I had this difficulty, and thinking back on my process I remember that I made up a new batch of rice paste at that point, and it was thicker than usual. I'll bet that was it. (This echizen kozo paper has been entirely satisfactory up until this point.)