It has been a solid two weeks of work and such for the studio. As of last Monday around 3 pm, the first layer of the current edition was complete. Stephen and I were in the shop Sunday and Monday printing for 5-6 hours each day to get the prints ready. We ran into some snags along the way and lost the plates eventually, but in the end we had 50 prints done before the second plate started to strip and I called it.
To elaborate, pronto plate printing is not the best process for the recreation of photographic imagery, but conceptually it was the best process for the Stephen was thinking about in designing the imagery. He was very concerned with the actually process and how the paper and plate were run through the press, specifically wanting the press, the main top barrel to push the plate into the paper and not vice versa. This required us to use pronto plate as its the only process I know of that transfers the image well when stacked in that way, ie. newsprint, paper, plate, newsprint, blankets. But pronto plates will breakdown over time and the toner or sharpie used will strip away and start to leave open white spaces.
I found with the black layer, I was getting about 20-25 prints before it became too much and I had to reject the plate and switch to the next. This is why I called it when we got to 50, otherwise I would have had to create a new plate and take much more time. I found today when I went in for my second attempt at the 2nd layer, that the sharpie started to breakdown too and at around the same point as the black because of this I feel confident in telling future students and collaborators, you will need multiple plates of the same layer if you want to create an edition larger than 15-20 with pronto plates.
Here are some images from the process.
Some of you really reading and paying attention, may have caught that I wrote second attempt at the 2nd layer in the previous paragraph. This is because last Friday I came into the shop to try and start the second layer so that I would not have to do a long single day, but there was an issue I came upon and had to deal with.
In a nut shell, the black ink was not completely dry and embedded in the paper from the 4 day break, so when I went to print the red layer on top, the first attempt stripped ink from the paper onto the plate and caused a large transfer ruining the plate and bringing things to a stand still. After some contemplation, I stacked the prints between sheets of news print, to protect and possible pull off some of each prints ink. This did nothing, so today as I printed, I ran each sheet through the press with extra newsprint to strip away excess black ink from the paper’s surface. This caused there to be little to no transfers and allowed to clean printing of the second layer. Below are images of the fire red slab before the first print on Friday and after, and two proofs to show what transferred and through a monkey wrench in the works.
You can see the big difference and why I let them rest further over the weekend and then ran them through to strip ink before I printed the second layer. Now I will go back to the studio this week and curate and tear down the prints to their final size. Curation in printmaking refers to fixing small issues in the prints to get them closer to each other for the final edition. You can use little bits of colored pencil to fill in misprints or thinned out ink with a brush, and you use an exacto and white eraser to remove ink in the border areas to get them as clean as possible. I hope to complete this and have the prints ready for signing and numbering this coming Monday. Stephen will be joining me in the studio again so that we can have him go through and do a final approval before we call it complete. Hopefully next Monday there will be a new post with images of the complete print. Until then, check out the full rack of prints.