Ink Layering, More Learning

Remember how I learned about drying one ink layer before printing the next one? Well, what I haven’t learned yet is how to tell if the previous layers are dry. In past experiments I baked the prints in a toaster oven and let them sit for 24 hours. In this experiment, I did not bake them in the oven. I thought that transparent tint base and/or plate oil was allowing the layers to dry in just one day. I was wrong.

The strange thing is that the layers didn’t blend together right away like they have in the past. They blended when I baked them. After printing the fourth layer, I could see that the ink was thick and glossy so I decided to bake the prints to dry all four layers more quickly.

[Unbaked on the left, baked on the right]
In the image above, I was testing the results of printing light inks first with darker inks over them, varying the transparency for each print. The blending of lower layers with upper layers is most apparent in the area on the lower left where there is yellow below black. The yellow bled into the black, giving the appearance of sitting on top of it.
[unbaked vs baked]
Again in this image, the blending is apparent after baking. In this case the orange is printed over the black. Baking causes the black to blend forward, mostly obliterating the little opacity that I was able to achieve.
[Viscosity effect?]
One last complication with overprinting on inks that aren’t quite dry is an inadvertent masking effect. You can see on the plate that wet black ink is lifting from the print, preventing all of the orange ink from being laid down.
I cannot afford to bake my prints to ensure that they’re dry. Before the year is over, I’ll be taking the printmaking studio off the grid and moving it up the hill into the yurt where I have no electricity. I’ve already ordered the drying agents that I expect to use for speeding up the drying of each layer before printing the next one. After seeing the weird results from these tests, those tins of drying agents can’t arrive soon enough!

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