I had a lovely time on Friday afternoon printing these using a screen made with my gocco machine and taking photos of the process to show you all. I didn't realize that it was all a waste because of the ink I was using...but I'll explain that later.
For those of you unfamiliar with a gocco, this is what one looks like. It's a Japanese crafters tool which allows you to create screens for printing, in a process closely related to silk screen printmaking.
I bought my machine probably 18 months ago, enticed by the fact that you can print both on paper and on clay (using different inks). I only recently got around to testing it out, and this page for "Judy and the Jacarandah" is my first use of the gocco for a project.
The pages are wet media acetate, and herein lies some of the issues I've been experiencing. The printing process required a bit of refinement and a move to "off-contact" printing. If you've done screen printing, you'll know that this means that when you pull the ink across the screen, the screen doesn't actually lie on your paper or whatever substrate you are printing on, it sits above it, and then snaps back up into place after the squeegee passes over. Working with acetate also requires this, because otherwise when you lift the screen off the acetate, the screen pulls up most of the ink that you have just applied.
The gocco site in Australia, http://nehoc.com.au has loads of information and I soon worked out what the problem was and set up a printing "station" as suggested. Below you can see the white foam core guide I've glued to some strawboard for the acetate and the blue non-slip mat to stop the screen from moving. I also used some double sided tape to hold the acetate down and stop it sticking to the screen.
Below is the screen in place over the acetate. You can see it is sitting about 5mm off the surface. I've taped a border of foam core around the frame to achieve this height.Here you can see the ink I used and the gocco squeegee. I mixed the brown using my new Akua Kolor inks and the Akua intaglio transparent base to achieve the desired consistency. I decided to use this ink because it is non-toxic and clears up in water, but stays open for ages and wouldn't clog the screen. I was really happy with the way it printed, and if this project had been on paper, there would have been no problems.
I finished about half the print run on Friday and was feeling pretty pleased with the result. Then I re-read the Akua ink user guide and saw this:
"Akua Intaglio ink does not contain dryers. These inks dry by absorption unlike other inks which dry by evaporation....Glossy or coated papers are not recommended for use with this ink."
So now I am concerned that these pages may never dry!! Certainly they haven't had much hope these past 3 days with the rain pouring down and the humidity through the roof. Ah well, I guess I can consider it printing practice. If anyone has any suggestions or knows whether these prints will dry, please drop me a line.
Postscript Wed March 10th
Thought I should add that I emailed Susan Rostrow who developed the Akua inks to see what she thought about using the inks on acetate. She answered very quickly and confirmed my fears. She offered a few suggestions and I thought I would share them with you. I've cut and pasted her thoughts below:
Akua inks are formulated not to dry on plastic so printmakers have endless time for creating the image on the plate. I don't think a fixative would actually dry the inks. I have 3 suggestions:
- You could try several coats of an acrylic spray. It would form a skin on top of the ink. You would still need to handle the print on acetate very carefully.
- Apply a light sprinkle of baby powder or corn starch to dry the ink on the acetate. However, the white powder would sit on top of the ink and change the color. You would still need to handle the print on acetate very carefully.
- Sandwich another acetate sheet on the side where the ink lies. This would offer protection from rubbing off.
The "sandwich" works well, but I'm still deciding between this and re-doing the print with some other inks, seeing this is to go in an artists book and will therefore be handled. I should finish this post by saying that the Akua worked beautifully with the gocco screen, and if you are printing on paper, it's an excellent non-toxic choice.