She’s Finally Ready.

After a little touching up, she looks beautiful.

Traditionally, a generous border is left around the print, but I find it incredibly difficult to keep these clean whenever making prints. Usually the paper has a nice fibrous tooth to it, making it easy to clean up with a white pencil eraser. The paper I used was unfortunately not very forgiving like Reeves BFK or Arches Cover, cleanup would have been a nightmare had I tried erasing the ink. Simple solution? Taking Amanda Lebel’s endlessly helpful words of wisdom; cutting the print down and floating it on acid-free foamcore.

I had a 3/16″ thick piece of acid-free foamcore cut down to 26×26″, measured the exact middle and traced lightly in pencil, the position of the print on the foamcore. Flipping the print over from the top, I applied three pieces of linen tape, acid-free of course, along the top edge, attaching the back of the print to the foamcore. Flipping it back over and lining it up in its correct position before the tape dried completely, I stuck another small piece at the bottom in the middle for good measure. After erasing the lines I drew for positioning, I finally signed the print. On the back of course, but also on the foamcore:

The final print is 23×23″ with a foamcore border of 1.5″ all around and an approximate 2″ thick frame makes the final product about 28×28″. Where does the mustache come in to play you ask? Fret not, stay tuned for the next post!

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Final color!

It’s ridiculous how much the final color (usually black) pulls everything together. One second the prints look like amorphous blobs of color kind of sitting on top of one another and the next, they make sense.

The screen:

the mess:

the print:

just a bit of tweaking/cleaning up to do, but the colors are done. The anxiety is mostly over. Heavy sighs of relief.

Day 3!

Day 3: trapped in the same room, windows agape, ancient, temperamental stereo cranking, with the warm weather breathing its tantalizing and inescapable breath in my face, I’m wearing the same apron I’ve been wearing every time I’ve exposed myself to the throes of sloppy ink. I always grab this particular one: smeared with black throughout one side, graciously pristine on the other. I’m not sure why I have almost this automatic impulse to grab this particular apron. Today I actually scoured amongst all the others hanging on the back of the storage closet door to find it. We have a special bond, almost. The whole week it was me and this apron against this screen and this print. Allies. The only real object who could possibly know the trials and tribulations of this process as they unfolded first-hand.

Although the seemingly endless hours of seclusion in this room had weighed on my mental well-being by this point, I drudged forward, determined to complete this project before school was back in session and we were all walking on eggshells around each other, trying to use the power washer at the same time and politely competing for space. Here is what I had completed by Day 3:

I was luckily able to save myself a step by using one screen for two separate colors because the colors did not come close to one another. I used masking tape to create a barrier between the color sections. Tape was also used to block small areas where the emulsion didn’t seem to stick. Just in case. The magenta was printed first:

The yellow was printed after wiping the excess magenta away so the colors didn’t mix:

And of course after washing out the ink and emulsion came the last of the Rubylith cutting:

No more Rubylith cutting!

The week goes on.

By the end of Day 1, the first color (dark blue) was printed, the second color Rubylith was cut and the screen filler was washed out. The screen was degreased and coated with photo emulsion to dry overnight. The morning of Day 2, the first Rubylith (the mustache pattern) was shot on the photo emulsion and the screen was rinsed, leaving behind the hardened emulsion. By 11am, I was in Amanda Lebel’s studio starting the letterpress. As of right now, I only have about 75 reverse sides to print.

By 1pm I was back in the printmaking room, printing the second blue on top of the empty blue area (the blue on the screen seen here is the negative space, the transparent part is what will actually show up on the print):

and cutting the second Rubylith; a much simpler feat than the first.

I’m kind of loving the way the layers of cut Rubylith look on top of one another.

By the end of Day 2, I had shot the second color screen, started letterpressing, cut the second Rubylith, washed out the screen and coated it with new emulsion for Day 3!

Seven Day Success

As the week of insanity draws to a close, I can finally sit back and reflect on all those 8-10 hour days in the printmaking studio. I regret not being able to update this every night of the last week due to plain exhaustion, but I did manage to snap a plethora of pictures throughout with the help of various fellow Shafer dwellers. I think the easiest and logical way of showing them all will be by each day and each step. I apologize thoroughly for the lack of pictures of me actually printing, it’s a bit of a stressful, messy and fast-paced process. Stopping for pictures would mean ink drying in the screen!

Day 1 involved a number of things happening simultaneously: Prepping the screen, completing the image to its final state and printing the outlines on the plotter in the Davis lab, using Screen Filler for the first color to block the white space where my face will go, and cutting Rubylith for the second color while everything dried. Simple duct tape was used to prevent the ink from sloshing everywhere or leaking through the edges of the screen. The screen was then washed and degreased so that the filler could consistently adhere to the parts I wanted to block. I used the printed outline as a kind of map for tracing and cutting the Rubylith later on for each of the colors.

The outlines are also seen here, underneath the taped and degreased screen. I have the screen propped on a few pieces of foamcore so that the paper outlines did not stick to the back of the screen. Clear acetate was also under the screen to further prevent any drips or mishaps to the only copy in my possession.

By this time, Akus Gallery director and curator Elizabeth Peterson had popped in to see what I was up to:

The finished product:

And while this was drying, I cut each and every one of these mustaches out with an X-acto knife.

It seems so simple; lightly trace with the X-acto over the matte side of the Rubylith, and peel back the thin, red layer of film. I started this at noon. It was complete by 6pm.

This was only Day 1. Eat your heart out Rubylith.

Go-Go Gadget Letterpress!

Today I met a temperamental old man of a press. He allowed me to get through half of my ‘staches unscathed. It’s a much less messy process than I had anticipated.

Rubber-based ink is applied and spread around the flat disk on top:

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When the lever is pushed down several things happen: two rollers move up along the plate to the disk, collecting ink, are brought back down over the beveled letterpress plate design and the part holding the mustaches in place is pressed against the freshly inked plate. The disk also rotates so fresh ink is applied to the rollers and plate each time the lever is pushed. But sometimes he decided to be a little cranky and this would not happen.

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Things are happening!

Photos, letterpress, space and instruction courtesy of the amazing Amanda Lebel!