I recently wrote about some etched solar plates I’ve been given, which I’ve started printing. My aim is to create a book showcasing the prints to give to the friend who kindly donated the plates.
My criteria are as follows:
- Eco-dye the paper prior to printing.
- Individual pages, printed one side only, allowing the other to be filled by the recipient as she sees fit: text, water colour, more printing, collage, etc..
- Chine colle front and back.
- Japanese stab stitch binding with wrap-around at spine.
My first dilemma was paper choice. I required something that could be eco-dyed – so would stand up to being immersed in water for a fairly long period without disintegrating – but would also accept my Charbonnel etching inks and produce a good print. In addition, Diana will be adding her own mixed media to blank areas further down the track. She routinely works with drawing inks, acrylic paints, pens and other media, so the paper has to be versatile enough to accept a multitude of mark making techniques.
I chose Magnani Pescia Editions 200gsm fine book paper. It’s described on the Magnani website (in part) as:
100% cotton, luxurious paper for limited editions, artists books, journals. Lightly surface sized, slight tooth, suitable for all types of reproduction including offset, letterpress and digital, or tip in etching, relief or litho images onto your printed page.
I don’t know what ‘tip in etching’ is and having looked it up on Google I’m none the wiser, and the rest of the details seem to point towards working on the paper dry. But it’s 100% cotton so surely it will stand up to a dye bath and then later on a bit of a soak to help my etching inks transfer. What the heck, I went with it.
A few years ago I planted Tiger Grass Bamboo to later prune and make into paper but, as it’s getting rather large, using it to dye commercial paper seemed like a good idea.
After harvesting, I cut length-ways along the stems to open them up before running through the mulcher. Using both the leaves and stems, the whole lot went into a cooking pot and was brought to the boil
For my mordants I chose copper sulphate to brighten the green that was leaching from the cut plant followed by a smidge of ferrous oxide to darken it.
Having clamped the cut sheets between wood blocks I realised they wouldn’t fit in the pot – time to improvise. I placed my paper ‘package’ into a shallow tray and poured the boiling liquid over, along with as much of the plant fibres I could – stuffing them between the protruding paper sheets where possible. There it stayed until the following morning.
Having carefully unwrapped my sheets, rinsed and dried them I’m pleased to see that the green remains true and hasn’t morphed into muddy green/brown.
Part 2 will detail printing the solar plates onto the pages.