I had an unexpected free day yesterday, so I cleared the decks in the kitchen, putting a big sheet of acetate on the worksurface along with lots of newspaper. Then I got out my inking slab (a big bit of bevelled glass taken from an old cabinet) ink and roller. Then I tore up some sheets of that nice Chinese paper. The idea was to do some final proofing coupled with minor adjustments to the block and maybe get one good impression at the end of the day.
It took me a good few minutes to roll the ink out so it 'looked like a mole's tummy' (thanks to Andy English for that description, I love it!) and my first impression wasn't inked enough. The next was better and I made some tweaks to the block, especially the background where tiny bits needed scorping back further. That was the real bugbear of the day. No matter how much I hacked the background away little bits printed on the next print! Argh! Next time remind me not to have a large expanse of pure white! It's bloomin' hard work clearing it. I think I may have a way round it though. If I cut a mask with a hole and lay it over the inked block I can lay the paper over it and burnish away in the knowledge that the paper will be protected from the background. Anybody else have any other suggestions?
I have to report that the Chinese paper worked a dream. I used the smooth side and it printed crisply. It has a lovely thin, crisp feel, with a gentle unobtrusive texture.
Printing with a teaspoon is very hard work. I was having a job to get a consistent print every time, there was always a tiny patch somewhere that was lighter; and I was very careful to burnish all over. I wondered if it was my 25-year-old ink, but it seemed ok. It must be inexperience, but if I make an edition of this block it'll have to be small and I expect a fair bit of wasteage. All good experience though.
Here's Charlie complete with background flecks....