Having never done a big print run, I really thought I’d get it all done in one day. Ha! Here’s how far I got on the first day…
Before I could print I needed to make a jig to register my block in the center of each sheet of paper. Thankfully, I have a wood shop with scraps from making plates. All I needed to do was glue some scraps together and tape two guide strips on top.
[Roughen before applying glue]
[Clamped flat and square]
[Raised paper guide]
Next I set the pressure on the press. You do this by running dry paper through it and testing how much and how evenly it embosses. These are strips left over from tearing down the paper that I’m using for this edition.
When the embossing was deep enough and the same on both edges of the plate I knew that it was set tight enough. Then I had to mix up more ink than I’ve ever mixed before. I just have to guess how much I’ll need and try to make a little extra.
This part was very hard, again, because I’m using a runnier ink than the woodblock calls for so I need to thoroughly mix in a stiffening agent. It was like folding powdered sugar into taffy, at least an hour of pulling and spreading, testing the length, adding powder, pulling and spreading some more.
Finally, the ink was done. I was able to pull a few proofs and hone my inking method.
If you look at how big that printing block is compared to the size of the press, you’ll see that this is the absolute limit of what I can print with the Richeson Baby Press. These calendars only have a 1″ border in order to maximize the size of the print area.
[Block and jig for an artist’s proof]
At the end of the day I realized that I could never print the whole edition with the time that was left so I put a sheet of heavy duty plastic over the ink and went for another hike in the mountains. A few hours of fresh air and sunshine will be a lovely memory tomorrow when I’m at the press before the sun comes up.
[Ink sealed to the slab]
I’m terrified and excited to pull this edition tomorrow, but there’s no way to learn than to just do it. I know I’ll make mistakes and that I’ll learn from them. I don’t think I’ll sleep much tonight!