Printing Problems From Today

Any new skill is going to take some time and experience before it can be executed well. In the beginning the mistakes are so plentiful that it’s hard to get anything done. Big, basic mistakes are a sign that I’m learning new things and not just sticking with what I know.
This week I made some real mistakes in the printing studio. First, I realized a flaw in the logic of starting out with water-based ink and then moving on to oil, thinking I had worked out the kinks. The two materials respond completely differently to the wood of the blocks.

[reclaimed cedarwood block]

[half absorbing, half repelling]
He water-based ink reacted the same across the whole surface of this block, but the oil-based ink did not. Half of the block absorbed the ink and just kept absorbing it with no sign that it would ever stop. The other side repelled the ink from the very start. It never absorbed at all. There’s is nothing that I could do to even it out. Poof! Just like that, half of the blocks that I cut last week were unusable. They all came from the same piece of wood. Oops.
The next mistake was forgetting that I need to thin my ink.
[torn paper surface]
Litho ink straight out of the can is thick and sticky. Depending on the paper and whether I’m softening it, I sometimes need to use a thinner oil to reduce the viscosity and prevent the ink from tearing the surface of the paper. I soaked this paper and forgot to add plate oil to my ink. 
[bleeding ink]
For my last big mistake I didn’t ensure that this piece of paper was completely blotted before printing. Yes, oil and water repel each other so the oil-based ink will not bleed on damp paper. If there’s a pool of water, though, the oil can form a film on the surface of the water and migrate to places where it doesn’t belong. Oops.
So, yeah, big learning means big mistakes.
[rows of printed images]
In the end, though, I pulled enough prints of acceptable quality (for a student) that I’ll get to see how customers respond to them at the market this weekend.
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