You just have to keep trying . . .

. . . until you find a solution

With 28 images individually printed onto handmade paper (see stage 1 here), collated and ready to be assembled into my Aspects of Humanity book I have spent a lot of time attempting to get words printed for each different section, including the front cover.

First idea was to cut lino and, boy, was that long winded and hard.

The result has potential (with further tidying up) but I realised that it was going to take far too long and one slip of my cutting blade could be a disaster.

Next I consulted with my printing tutor who suggested making a solar plate in reverse.  OK, weird but why not try it.
Normally when making solar images you etch the image into the plate and print it as an intaglio (ink into the recessed areas) but her idea was to etch the surround and leave the letters sitting higher than the background.  Then, using a roller, gently roll ink over the surface.  Ideally this should just ink up the letters and I should get what I’m looking for.

Hmmm…. OK, I prepared my words in reverse colour on white copy paper.  The black area is what should wash away, leaving me with raised letters ready to print.

Then I tried to find a copy shop to photocopy this onto acetate to use with the solar plate.  Everyone refused, so I bought a packet of acetate to do it myself on my brand new Brother printer.  What could possibly go wrong?
It’s extremely useful to know if your printer actually will deposit an image onto acetate/clear film before you start.  I didn’t do that and no my printer doesn’t.  After 11 attempts with the printer on every setting imaginable I finally gave up but my husband, casually in passing, mentioned that the office Kyocera has an acetate setting.  Excellent, but I’d have been even more ecstatic if he’d told me 2 hours and $30 worth of wasted materials earlier.

Moving on.  Image copied onto acetate, then transferred to solar plate in print studio.

Whilst the letters can be clearly seen, once I ran my fingers over the surface I could tell that there wasn’t enough difference in height between the words and the background.  An initial ink roll-over proved this as most of the entire plate received an inking.  Disaster.

Next idea: use the solar plate as is intended.  Etch the lettering into the surface and intaglio print it ensuring the surrounding areas are well wiped so no plate tone is transferred.

Well etched and printed fine but with some plate tone.
Having run out of alternative ideas I decided to bite the bullet and make a larger plate with all the words on and then print them section by section onto the book pages as needed.

Could anything else possibly go wrong?  Well, yes.  The solar plate etched beautifully and inked up well.  My hand-made, recycled-print paper STUCK FAST to the surface.  I was gutted and the plate was destroyed.

The picture above shows the plate after 2 1/2 hours of painstaking removal of paper fragments – with a lot still remaining.  The surface was ruined, pitted and uneven.  There was no chance of rescue.

What now?  Make a collagraph with cut cardboard letters?  I’m not quite that mad and, being on a deadline, couldn’t afford the time.  I glanced at my Brother printer and thought a bit.  There’s a reason I insisted on a printer with a manual flat feed option and it was time to use it.

Feeding A5 45gsm hand-made paper through the back of a printer, hoping you’ve got everything lined up and the sheet doesn’t rip or buckle midway through, is stressful.  And I had to do it 8 times.  I’d previously colour-matched the Brother printer ink with my lino-cut oil-based ink and unbelievably all 8 pieces went through the printer, came out the other end perfectly and totally matched.  Unreal, I’d done it and it took less than 10 minutes.  After all the carry-on over several weeks, a good amount of wasted money and a lot of frustration I’D DONE IT!

It just goes to show that there’s always an answer.  You’ve just got to keep

until you get there.

About Claire B

I'm a passionate printmaker, paper-maker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I've stitched from early childhood and am a perpetual student, loving learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in My books & journals, My Creative Pieces, My paper, My prints and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to You just have to keep trying . . .

  1. nolaarcher says:

    So glad you got there in the end! They look great.
    Printing text is always a challenge. My brain is fizzing with, “could you do…?” thoughts now! Every time I see alphabet stamps, I buy them – they are the easiest way to create headings. Fine text… maybe a sun print from an acetate sheet with clear letters on black?

    • Claire B says:

      The results in the book are so good I’m glad I finally went this route. I can’t visualise your suggestion about your sun print method, Nola. Not sure how that works with what I wanted to achieve and with the materials I own.

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