Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Papers for Printmaking Part 2

Following are some of the papers I have tried and how they behaved for me.
Generally I look for how papers behave for woodcut prints, but I have grown to love many papers that I use for sketching, watercolors and even painting.

Two more suppliers of awesome papers:
for a huge array of Japanese papers http://japanesepaperplace.com
and to enjoy the feel of handmade papers, learn a boatload and support smaller manufacturer
http://www.twinrocker.com

And more book recommendations, of course, here are three GREAT BOOKS on papermaking, from a historical and craftsmanship perspective.
 
Dard Hunter's  Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft is the book to get for printmakers that want to delve into the history of paper. Really fascinating stuff!

A bit pricey but a Timothy Barrett's great book on Japanese Papermaking with great illustrations and photographs Japanese Papermaking: Traditions, Tools, Techniques

And an out of print book, I confess one of my favorites, about the Craft of Japanese papermaking by Kiyofusa Narita with woodblock illustrations Japanese Paper-making

Maria's sampler of printmaking papers:

Arches 88
This paper is one of the best I have found for all types of printmaking. It is thick and soft and snow white. The surface is very smooth with no grain. Tears or cuts remarkably well.
It works well wet or dry, shrinks evenly (so it registers well), and takes much abuse so it is equally suitable for hand or press printing. Definitely use it for black and white oil based prints to achieve a most dramatic effect. It embosses well because of the thickness, but behaves otherwise much like the strong but thin Japanese papers  like Hosho.
It works equally well for woodcuts and wood engravings.
Arches Black
Delicious to print on. Not sized, that's why it likes the ink so well. Black paper presents a special challenge because you have to think your print in reverse/reverse. Whatever you cut out will be black. 
Arches Black is thick and soft. The surface is a bit more grained on one side, I usually use the back of the paper. It tears and cuts very well. Scuffs easy so be careful when handling.
Gives a very crisp impression but you have to remember to use very opaque colors or you will end up with a much darker image than you intended.

Arches Tan
Much like Arches Black. Same behavior, same feel. It gives prints a wonderful "warm" look and acts like a mid-tone.
For some reason, the tan likes the ink the best of all the Arches family. By "liking" the ink I mean that the impressions are crisp, the ink lays evenly and layers well. 
Print damp or dry.
It is a bit too "spongy" for wood engravings, but can be made to work well.

Bangla-Desh Handmade
This wonderful thick and spongy paper I bought at a place called "1,000 Villages" in a small town in Kansas. It is unsized and will stick to the block unless an additive like Daniel Smith Miracle Gel is used. Too wet and it will desintegrate back into pulp. When dry it is cardboard hard.
It tears well, cuts better, embosses deliciously and absorbs as much ink as you want to roll out. Gives clear and "stamp" like impressions. Every sheet is different.
See the notes on Printing On Hand-Made paper for recommended procedures.
 

BFK Light
This is a very affordable and versatile paper. It comes in white and buff, which are very similar in color. This paper is lightweight and accepts both woodcuts and wood engravings (although somewhat fuzzy on the wood engravings). As all Rives papers, it seems to be thirsty for ink and works well damp or dry. Tears very easily and handles well. An extremely gentle and forgiving paper to work with and warmly toned.
I am told some folk even use this very successfully for moku-hanga, Japanese water-based, prints.

Canson Me Teintes (Red)
This is a paper made for pastel and drawing work. What I like about it is that it comes in a wide variety of bright colors. The "pastel" side is toothy. The reverse is smooth and ideal for printmaking.
Canson is thinner than the Arches family, it prints well dry or wet but I recommend dry. It likes the ink despite being made for drawing. Second and third layers of ink will shine unless Set Swell Compound is used on earlier layers. Tears and cuts well but it is fragile when dampened.

Daphne

               
Daphne hand-made papers from Nepal come in three weights. 
Lightweight is feathery, transparent and suitable only for special projects. My Life of a Tree Series was printed on Daphne. It's a bear to work with, tears easily but not where you want it to.
Medium weight is suitable for woodcuts. It is sized but not too heavily. Being very strong, it doesn't tear easily, but using a brush and water makes it pull apart easily.
Heavy weight is a wonderful paper resembling parchment and can look like leather. It looks a lot like the background of this page. It works better dampened but becomes fragile. It is heavily sized but not consistently from batch to batch. Sometimes fibery inclusions can dent a cherry block so it's not for the faint of heart.
Graphic Chemical Heavyweight
For being so affordable, this paper surprised me in its ability to take ink well, layer well, tear well, dampen well...there is very little that this paper can't do. A sturdy Western paper with a light cream and slight toothy finish, it embosses well when dampened. 
It is ink thirsty, so it will take several layers of ink without complaining. A bit rough for engravings, but also surprising in that function.
Did I mention affordable?

Hanhemulle

 
This is really a pastel paper, a bit softer than Canson and also available in a wide array of colors. It is lightweight and accepts ink very well, one side being toothier than the other. 
The main advantage is the color range. Dampening makes this paper very fragile as it was meant for dry media. Tears well, use it dry.
Inks seal the unsized paper quickly, so the top layers will shine.

Ingres/Fabriano

 

Another questionable choice by yours truly, but it works so well!
This is really a drawing paper, thin and meant for dry media. Lo and behold, it takes the ink so well and comes in such warm unusual colors like "tobacco", "maple", "crimson", and "chocolate," among others.
Fibers are shorter than on traditional printmaking papers so they are fragile if dampened but work great dry.
This is also a nice affordable choice for the explorer in you.

Kaisuri
This paper is randomly scattered with inserted material. It is a difficult paper to work with. It is thin and unsized and will tear under the pressure of a baren unless backed with a strong backing sheet.
Will not work wet, tears poorly and cuts fairly with a very sharp blade.
The inserted materials are random and large pieces, sometimes they have already torn the paper fibers. Printing around these intrusions will leave a lighter mark all around them.
Why did I use it? It is exciting and lends an individuality to every print. It also lends a distinct quality to an otherwise simpler image if used well.
 
Kitakata (Kitikata)
This paper is light, translucent, strong and absorbent like many Japanese papers. It truly loves the oil based ink and my fellow Hanga-printmakers tell me it works very well with water based inks.
The warmth and underlying texture of this paper is hard to beat for adding a nice warm tone to a print. Only complaint is that it comes in small (16"x20") sheets and it is expensive.
It works equally well for woodcuts and wood engravings. In fact it might become one of my favorite wood engraving papers.
 

Next blog post, more papers!