Monday, June 28, 2010

Endpapers, gilded suns and non-drying ink

          With the main bulk of the printing out of the way, I turned my attention to the endpapers, an important item in the book as they the first thing you see when you lift the cover. I like to relate them to the content of the book in some way. I had decided to go with the tea-stained paper (see previous post Feb, The Real Leonardo) and overprint this with two of Leonardo's line drawings that relate to flight. One of these is the dragonfly, the other is his little drawing of a man hanging from his 'parachute', which he describes as a wooden frame covered in fine linen, and treated with flour paste to make it air-tight.
          It involved several applications of tea to get the depth of shade, then I dried them completely under weight, then re-dampened, printed, dried and pressed again. A bit fussy to do, but I was pleased with the result, and it is a way of incorporating more of Leonardo's delightful line drawings into the book.
          I've also been working on the illustrations, using the PVA gilding idea (see previous post, April, A Sticky Gilding Situation). This is how two of them look. You can see why they call gilding 'illumination'.
I had a bit of a set-back with one of my images, I printed a figure in a red oil-based ink, using a stencil and brayer. So far, so good. But it took weeks to dry, and even when seemingly dry the red came off when gently rubbed with a tissue. I did't want to risk it inside the book in case it offset onto the opposite page. 
          So what to do? I looked back through all my experiments with various papers and media and looked at the ones where I used the same paper and Akua Kolors. The colours I have are the ones used for wood and lino cut printing, they are quite liquid, but if you leave them out to air-dry then can be used with a brayer, or you can thicken them with tack thickener. As mentioned, I was low on paper for the images, so by this time I was working on small offcut pieces of paper. They were big enough for the image, but tricky to print on, and I intended to overprint the figure with a cloud image on polymer plate, which I did. To stop the little pieces of paper dropping off the press I used a dab of the roller non-permanent adhesive on the mylar sheet I have on top of the tympan, and that was sufficient to keep them in place and prevent them from sticking to the plate. This image goes with the words "the triumph of a human being ascending, in the dreaming of a mortal man", so I hope this looks sufficiently dream-like and insubstantial. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Let the Printing Games Begin

Ahhh...the scent of printers' ink and press wash....nothing quite like it. The plates arrived and after checking them over, I cut them apart and started planning the printing. I decided to print the full page images first, and spent the rest of the afternoon cutting up paper. I found there was only just enough, as after ordering, I had decided to include an extra image. Oops! I shall have to be extra careful. 

The plates for the images have some larger solid printed areas which made adjustments necessary. My old table-top Craftsman press was built as a jobbing press, for printing small jobs such as tickets, and invitations. Because of its clamshell action, it is not ideally suited for printing large solid areas, not usually an issue for me. So for these images, I had to make several adjustments to rollers, ink and packing in order to get the solid black areas to print well. I then had to print with my full weight on the handle to get enough pressure. I printed dry on this handmade 30 gsm Japanese paper, as I didn't want to spoil the beautiful surface by dampening it. Anyway, the alterations worked. Looking at the handle of this press, which has been welded  at some time in its career, my guess is that I'm not the first to throw my full weight on it. I just hope it holds out.

The text printing went well, the damp paper gives a lovely crisp impression and again, as this was the Griffen Mill handmade paper I proceeded extra slowly and carefully. This paper has a watermark in the corner of each sheet, with the letters GM, the infinity sign (to indicate its archival status) and the initials MG for Mike Gibbs, the papermaker. I love the thought that I'm making a book with paper made by a real person, a person I have actually met, and that the paper could last for hundreds of years. I have a bible dating back to 1589, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It is beautifully printed, the presswork is amazing and although it is pretty beaten up, still an object of my admiration for the skill that went into making the paper and printing it all those 400+ years ago.

Because the paper had been dampened I let it dry off a little and when it showed signs of curling, finished the drying process between blotters under a light weight.
 During the time I was printing, my leather arrived! I had chosen it from a swatch on a card, so was not really surprised to find that it was slightly different in colour from what I had expected. One batch of leather never dyes the same as the next, it's a fact of life. This skin was a little brighter and redder than I expected, but still a very nice skin, as you can see.