Test before you commit

We use lots of paper. And any printmaker or book artist will tell you that paper, book cloth, board and other materials are not inexpensive. So it’s really important to test and experiment with less expensive materials before you commit to your edition. Sometimes you must factor into your process experimentation on the real material and other alternate materials just in case.

I’m currently experimenting with painting with pressure prints. I layer different pressure print matrixes over and over on the same print to build imagery through transparency and opacity. Not only am I experimenting with process, but I must try out different types of paper. Pressure prints on thicker softer paper like Stonehenge and Lenox are softer and less detailed. Pressure prints on Mohawk Superfine and other text weight non-laid papers are crisper and pick-up details and subtle nuances distinctly. I’m not sure what I want to do…so as I prepare for this larger project I printed on Arches, Lenox, Mohawk superfine and newsprint.

In the pictures below, you can see nine individual blocks. Printed like this onto one paper they can then be cut down into simple one page books. So I’m also playing with imposition. Very fun. I may use this to edition my Ten Ounces book. We shall see.

The importance of this lesson and sharing it with my students came sharply into focus recently. One student cut an entire roll of Stonehenge paper down (retail $250) to print an edition of pressure prints, THEN he tested one and was like, hmm…I don’t really like how this looks. It was at that moment that I realized that I had not instilled the importance of TEST, THEN commit. Thankfully, after a second look he did indeed like the effect and printed the edition. And now is a big fan of the Test, then commit mantra.

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