This week was a little rough but turned out in the end. Like I described in my last post, we have altered the direction of the process for the print. Pronto plates are a polyester based plate that was developed for different offset print presses. These plates can be sent through a laser printer and heat set to allow the toner to apply and become ready to accept ink. For a full explanation of the process, check out Kathryn Polk’s blog Non-Indigenous Woman.On the 25th, I went forward with the pronto plate direction and printed a set of proofs on newsprint and Rives BFK. Initially it didnt seem like it was inking up well, until I got to the 6th proof on Newsprint (see below)
Following this I tried the image using the same inking sequence as the 6th proof and the rest. But I seemed to have lost a lot of detail between the newsprint and the BFK. This could happen for a variety of reasons, but the main one I suspected was a combination of less ink on the roller and less information for the ink to attach too for printing on a textured paper. Below is the BFK proof and a comparison image.
Its pretty easy to see the difference. So two things were done this week. First I mixed up a large batch of ink for printing to try and keep the ink as consistent as possible for as much of the project, if not the whole project. Secondly, I printed a new version of the plate and went about coloring in the blacker areas with sharpie. Sharpie works really well with pronto plates, better than any other drawing material I have tried. I created a makeshift light table with painters tape and my window. The images are of the starting and finished sharpie.
I also suspected that the image that I was using was not producing the best plate because of its high contrast range. Some may say this seems like a incorrect assumption, but I felt the image could get more out of it than what I was receiving. I was unable to print on Friday because of some other printmaking obligations taking much longer than was expected, so I went into the studio on Sunday. I had great success on Sunday and am very happy with the initial test results. From the new plate, created from a different image manipulation sequence, I not only got a deeper black, but I also got a much better value range for the image. Here are some of the proofs from testing.
You can see the four stages of Newsprint proofs that I did before I then ran a print on BFK. Here is a close up of the first BFK test.
The image is much better than I expected and a much larger value range than the previous plate. My only issue was the small areas in the blacks that didnt seem to be inking up quite enough. To try and fix this I add two more charges to my regimen for roll-up. There were specific areas that seemed to be getting the short end of the stick from the sequence I was using. The result was awesome!
As you can see, the image did a lot better. I got a lost more of the black out, more of the details and a better value range. I sent the image to Stephen and he was thrilled. He couldn’t believe how solid the image looked and the range received. I am extremely happy with this result, but still feel I may be able to do a little bit better. So this week, I will be testing a new plate printed the same way as this one, but with the black areas darkened with Sharpie for a richer, solid black. I still have plenty of ink and look forward to seeing what I can produce next Friday morning. I will be printing at least 4 of them on BFK for creating the BAT, bon a tirer, for Stephen, but before that can be printed we will have to meet in the studio to mix and created some red tests for printing the second layer.