22 February 2018

Mokuhanga on Evolon

While I was working on the Fire series, I ran across a reference to a new synthetic paper called Evolon that sounded interesting. Evolon is a non-woven nylon/polyester microfiber "paper" (you could also categorize it as a fabric) that is being touted for all sorts of uses, from industrial to packaging to conservation. Another of the areas being explored is using Evolon as a printing paper, and apparently Atlantic Papers will be the main U.S. distributor of the paper form of Evolon.

I purchased a couple of sheets of 98gsm Evolon from Dick Blick a few weeks ago. It's an odd substance if you're used to real paper — it's soft and very fluid-feeling. It has "drape," like fabric, so it's a little hard to handle. But it has some intriguing qualities for art: never stretches, always dries flat, can be wrapped like canvas, dampens well, comes in huge sizes, archival, and UV resistant. You can also launder it or wring it when wet and it will become a soft fabric that you can sew. What's not to like? So today I used an old set of four blocks to test Evolon AP for mokuhanga. I printed them consecutively, one color on top of the other with no waiting in between. Here are my results.

One interesting feature of Evolon is that you can launder it or wet and crumple it and it will become fabric-like. The upper left image was printed dry on a piece of Evolon that was previously crumpled. The image on the upper right was printed on dry Evolon, and the bottom image was printed on Evolon that had been damp packed in the standard way for mokuhanga.
Here's a close view of the print made on damp Evolon. The color is a little richer than in the other prints, but there was some bleeding, especially around thinner lines. I don't think I would use this paper for very fine ukiyo-e style work.
Here's one of the prints that I made on dry Evolon. The tooth of the paper shows more, but lines are fairly crisp and it picked up both brush strokes and wood grain quite easily. If you've ever tried printing mokuhanga on dry Japanese washi, you'll know that it never comes out this well!
Here's a sheet that I wrung out wet and then dried, to see how it would behave in "fabric" mode. Here you can see some creases and fabric texture under the ink, and the paper dipped into uncarved areas more easily so there are more stray marks. But still, it's not half bad and a more forgiving design would print just fine. I think there are a lot of possibilities here!