Sunday, 22 January 2012

Printmaking paper choices by Marina Kim on Squidoo

There are scores of various printmaking techniques. Choosing the right paper for each particular technique will save you time and bring rewarding results with your artwork.

I've spent literally hundreds of hours printing mezzotint plates, varying papers, adjusting pressure and inks, changing wiping techniques... Here, I put together one aspect of this experience - choosing the best papers to successfully print a mezzotint plate.
    What Type of Paper
First of all, don't economise on paper for staging and proofing. With mezzotint, there is that temptation, as it can take endless stage proofs to get to the perfect image. At the beginning, I was making a mistake of choosing cheaper paper to print stages and ended up wasting still more paper and especially time. It is very frustrating too to get it right on an inexpensive paper and then realise that the same pressure, ink consistency, moisture content etc don't work on a better quality one.

For printing mezzotint choose soft unsized, with smooth or close to smooth surface paper. I find Hahnemuhle Etching paper is perfect and is good value for money. Other papers I successfully used on mezzotint plates are Fabriano Artistico Hot Pressed 600 gsm, Fabriano Tiepolo and Magniani Litho.

Hahnemuhle Etching Paper

gives very good consistent results and is a good value for money. It comes:
- in sheets of 106x78 cm, in three weights: 230 gsm, 300 gsm and 350; in White, Natural or Maise colour;
- in rolls of 124cm by 20m, in 350 gsm; in White or Natural colour.

Available Colours:
White colour in this paper is off-white or natural white shade.
Natural colour is rather creamy, warm colour.
Maise is only available in 300gsm sheets.

Using White colour paper will maximise the tonal range of your mezzotint image.

- 230 gsm weight is an adequate weight for printing mezzotint, although feels slightly flimsy. Might result in wavy print if used for large prints.
- 300 gsm is a good weight paper and best value for money.
- 350 gsm is very good.

Fabriano Tiepolo Paper

is a soft good quality paper with colour which could be described as antique white. It comes in one weight of 290 gsm and in sheets of 56x76 cm or 70x100 cm. Gives good results. I find the colour is a bit dull though.

Fabriano Artistico Papers

Fabriano Artistico 600 gsm HP (Hot Pressed) is a very heavy weight paper, yet can be used for mezzotint and other intaglio methods with great success.

I experimented with Fabriano Artistico 600 gsm paper wanting to achieve a substantial print which wouldn't be prone to accidental creases, could be stored easily without going wavy or misshapen and have a solid presentation look when unframed. Fabriano Artistico 600 gsm makes this all possible. On the downside, this paper is more costly than other alternatives and takes longer to prepare. To make it soft enough for printing a demanding mezzotint plate, allow it to soak in water for a few hours, followed by 2 days in a plastic wrap.

This paper comes in lighter weights too, which I personally didn't try out, but they should be perfectly suitable for mezzotint. Price wise, like for like in weight and square meter, Fabriano Artistico papers are costlier than Hahnemuhle Etching and Magniani Litho, and slightly less expensive than Fabriano Tiepolo. The weights available are 200 gsm, 300 gsm and 600 gsm. They all come in sheets of 56x76 cm and three finishes: HP (hot pressed or smooth), NOT (not pressed, with light texture) and ROUGH (rough surface)

I printed my mezzotint plates on 600 gsm paper HP and NOT. HP gave better results than NOT. If you experience troubles with printing on any of Fabriano Artistico 600 gsm, either soak and keep it wrapped in a stack for longer or play around with the pressure on the press.

Magniani Litho

Magniani Litho is a good quality good value paper. Its White colour is bright and neutral and comes in:
- 310 gsm sheets of 53x70, 50x70 cm and 70x100 cm;
- 350 gsm sheets of 50x70 cm and 70x100 cm.

My Choice of Papers

I use Hahnemuhle Etching paper for most of my mezzotint printing and would highly recommend it. Magniani Litho is also good and inexpensive. Fabriano Artistico is an excellent paper, suitable for mezzotint. Gives great look to a print, although the 600 gsm demands more preparation and callibration time.

by Marina Kim on Squidoo

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