Well this dampened paper business was never going to be simple. I have never tried it for a whole edition until and I need 110 perfect copies - soon.
I started off on Saturday morning and the results were disastrous. The ink simply did not adhere to the paper enough to give a good black - just a washed out grey. In the end, I gave up, went indoors, lit a log fire and watched the rugby. I was out of sorts for the rest of the day but then had something of a brainwave in the evening which ascribed my failure to the low temperature in the studio. I had noted that the ink was very stiff while I was rolling it. I resolved to try again in the morning.
Sunday morning was another crisp clear and cold morning. I boosted the temperature in the studio with another heater and propped the glass inking slab, and a tube of ink over a small oil filled radiator. At this point, we took Bella out for a gloriously sunny walk through the lanes and the nature reserve. When I returned, the studio was piping hot and the ink slab warm. I selected the music (live improvised ambient soundscapes by Robert Fripp) and made a large mug of steaming tea before setting to work.
The ink was much runnier and a first attempt with dry Zerkall paper gave a lovely impression. I took the sheets of dampened Saunders watercolour paper and started to print. Things went very well indeed and I printed about 70 copies in about two hours. Things were starting to go wrong at this point. The prints were starting to smudge, as if the paper was shifting under the tympan. In the end, I lost five copies in a row and decided to give up again. I remade the packing but this didn't solve things. I tried a print with a loose card and paper pad between the block and tympan but had the same problem. I am sure that the problem is in the packing and I have redesigned this with a view of starting again this evening. I checked the prints, which are drying with interleaved sheets of paper between boards with bricks on top (neatly wrapped in brown paper) to keep them flat. I have 58 reasonable copies so I need over 60 more before I can finish this job. I was hoping to get this done over the weekend as I have engraving work to do. Its certainly put the dampeners on things!
Still, yesterday evening was lovely with a log fire, candles round the room, a bottle of good wine and Bruckner's 9th Symphony in the background - well you have to get away from the ink sometimes!