At last I have had the time to spend a day in my studio photographing the process of inking, wiping and printing a plate made from a plaster casting.
1. Very important to prepare your paper first while your hands are still clean. For printing this body of work i have used Fabriano Rosaspina Avorio 285gsm. The paper is torn down to siz, damped and then stacked under blotters until ready to print.
2. Prepare a simple template to make sure the plate is always placed squarely and prints in the same place every time. I use a piece of cartridge paper sealed with water based varnish. This means i can wipe it clean after every printing and also prolongs its life.
Template ready on press
3. Inks are then mixed ready. I use oil based etching ink and the ones shown here have been mixed with 50/50 extender to make them more translucent. I use brushes to ink my plates.
Inks mixed ready for printing
4. First I ink the plate all over in a white base colour, making sure to work it right down in to the deeper areas of the plate. The white ink has also been mixed 50/50 with extender. Individual colours are then applied, with small brushes, to the detail.
Applying a white base colour
Individual colours applied using small brushes
5. Once all the colours have been applied, and again take care to work the colours in to the deeeper areas of the plate, the plate is then wiped with scrim. Wiping needs to be done carefull so as not to mix the colours, bt a certain amount of blending is good to give a coherence to the finished print. I wipe directionally with the plate design to avoid too much mixing and potential muddying of colours. I tend to use a large ball of scrim as i find this far easier than small fiddly pieces.
Wiping the plate with scrim
6. Once all the excess ink is wiped off the surface of the plate, i then finish the wiping using a piece of tissue paper. Holding the paper and rubbing with a flat hand all over the plate removes the final residue of ink off the highest detail. I then wipe the edges of the plate with a rag.
Final wiping of the plate with tissue paper
7. The plate is now ready to print. Place the paper on to the template and run the top edge under the roller. Hold the paper back using a clip and then place your plate on to the template. Release the paper so it drop down over the plate and lower blankets. Mt press is a Hunter Penrose and i use a pressure that is just a bit lighter (a couple of notches) than i would use for an etching. The plates are not very thick and I find that they neeed quite a lot of pressure to get the paper down in to the lower areas. Obviously the pressure will vary for different presses and it is advisable to do a test print first.
Paper secured in press
Paper held back with a simple homemade clip
Plate placed on the template
Paper released to drop on to the plate