Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The beauty and mystery of printmaking paper

Okay, not that much mystery but I thought I'd make the title interesting.

I started to mull over paper choices this past week and have been doing some research online and off about what to use.
Puzzle #1, the Web was printed on Graphic Chemical Heavyweight paper which is 250 gsm, fairly smooth but with some tooth (rhymes!) and very white. Block and left print shown below.



Puzzle #2 The Great Baren Cairn, was printed on Stonehenge Cream because the design was more "organic" and because I like the way Stonehenge paper is more forgiving when printing.

Printing a conglomerate of pieces, as my good friend and helper Barbara Mason can attest, is a tedious problem. Some blocks have invariably and mysteriously shrunk, some are delicately carved and placed directly next to one that is not. Some require more ink than others but alas! all must be printed together.

In any case, I found Rising Stonehenge to have the right amount of tooth, softness, smoothness and ink "thirst" to be able to accommodate all the various blocks. In addition, it is fairly inexpensive and readily available.

Fast forward three years to Puzzle #3, the City of the World. Participant count nearly doubled at 114 and in order to make the pieces a a reasonable size, I expanded the design to five blocks. Each block will print on one 22 x 30 inch sheet of paper so each participant will receive a massive print spread over five full sheets. Quick multiplication...that's 570 sheets of paper plus some additional for sloppy printing, exhibitions, the Museum of Modern Art...(kidding, kidding).

Also fast forward in prices, Stonehenge is now a bit more expensive so I spent last week researching alternatives. I don't want to print on "cheap" student paper so I'm sticking to the 250 gsm weight as one guideline.
Another guideline was to go back to a whiter white but not pure white so somewhere along the warm white or natural designation. We don't want our City to be too cold.

My final candidates:
-Rising Stonehenge Natural @ $1.75 per sheet when bought in 100 packs
-Rising Stonehenge Warm White, same
-Graphic Heavyweight @ $1.54 per sheet when buying 500 or more
-Daniel Smith Lenox Warm White @ $1.45 per sheet when bought in 100 packs

I just bought some full sheets and when they get here I'm confident one of them will grab me and say "pick me! pick me!". Also I'm planning to call on the phone the various vendors and hunt for a good price on about 650 sheets.

Anyhow, just thought I would share some of the behind the scenes fun that I'm having while waiting for the last few stragglers. I'm finishing the photo taking this week and I will be all caught up on recording the arrivals.

More to come!