I've been woefully negligent about sharing my working time with you lately; I guess it's because I'm trying to do so much at the moment that it's hard to sit down and write about it.
Anyway, yesterday, as some Facebook friends might have noticed, I was feeding paper through my letterpress rollers in order to give it a metallic sheen. Why?
My Transmigration volume has a tricky little binding quirk that you can see in the picture below:
See the blue panel on the inside front cover? I wanted the endpapers for the book to be the same paper as the textblock (BFK Rives Grey) but I'd only been able to buy a certain quantity of the paper at the time, as the. whole. of. Australia. had. run. out. of. it. We have a really fragile art supply chain in Australia. If the sole importer goes out of business, we have to just deal with it -- even if the rest of the world is swimming in the stuff -- until someone fills the gap and decides to import it.
So I'd bought up the entire stocks of grey BFK that existed on this whole continent, which [a] dictated the size of the edition (90) and [b] forced me to experiment with the style of the binding and [c] pissed off a lot of printmakers until stocks were replenished. I used offcuts of the paper for the endpapers, and supplemented the binding with panels of the same paper used for the cover, but inked up with the metallic ink that I'd used on the cover, which is the same grey-green as the book paper.
I'd stumbled upon this idea because I have a folder full of odd bits of paper that I fling through the press rollers before I clean the press (to reduce the amount of ink on the rollers). I grab backing sheets, old drawings, offcuts around the studio, and often can't throw them away afterwards because the results are really cool. I end up using the papers for bookarts samples, or endpapers for my diaries, etc.
So yesterday I discovered that I'd run out of these little panels, and I had to produce more. I'd known this day was coming, had all the materials around, just had to do it. So this was what I had to do:
FAQ notes for those who have never done this but would like to try:
-- it works best with a thicker stock of paper
-- you have to catch it fast or it ends up wrapped around the rollers (although in this case the curl in the paper helped prevent that)
-- make sure you know which side is the side you want to use and keep that side facing the rest of the rollers (the side closest to the roller you're using gets a bit patchy)
-- you do get a few fingerprints, which is why I do larger pieces of paper and trim down to the size I want
-- BE CAREFUL! it's a moving machine and you're sticking your fingers in it. Also, do not hold me responsible if you have an accident. Serving suggestion only.
-- and yes, that's the new Glen Campbell album playing in the background. I refrained from singing along as I don't think you would have enjoyed it.
This is the pile of freshly-printed bookpaper. Each of these sheets makes three panels.
On the right, you can see the plain navy-blue faux-Buckram-texture paper. On the left, glammed up with a bit of grey-green metallic ink.
So now that I have the bits, all nice and dry today, it's time I used them.