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1080Re: [PPLetterpress] Dampening

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  • Peter Fraterdeus
    Nov 27, 2002
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      Katie

      From my limited experience, I'd say any sufficiently rag paper will benefit from dampening. OF this, Sebastian Carter of Rampant Lions Press once said 'damp to the cheek, but not to the finger' In other words, if it's glistening with moisture, you're gonna have problems for sure.

      One of the biggest problems I found in dampening was getting the paper evenly damp across the whole surface. Otherwise, of course, there will be patches of better and worse effect.

      The whole reason thereto is to hydrate the cellulose fibers in the paper, softening them and reducing (I imagine) the internal surface tension, allowing in the first case, the type surface to make a solid even impression across the inked surface, and in the second, allowing the ink to penetrate into the fibers at the molecular level, to some degree, rather than sitting on the surface.

      To this effect, I expect some form of 'wetting' addition to the water (a drop of glycerin, perhaps, or a very little soap?) might enhance the effect with a very little bit of dampening.

      This is all thought experiment at this time, as I haven't had a place to print for a couple of years now! (Soon I hope!)

      In terms of the technique, I used to soak a stack of felts, and then press as much water as possible out of them, overnight under the standing press, stacked between 18x24 sheets of 3/4 inch plywood, which I wrapped with plastic sheeting.

      The next day, I'd flip and turn the felts in quarter stacks, and press again for a few hours.

      When the felts were evenly damped, I'd layer a half dozen sheets of my stock, cut to production size, in between each felt, and build a layer cake. If the sheets were small enough, then setting multiples of 2-up, 4-up or whatever, on each felt.

      This whole cake is then wrapped in a large felt, set under the plywood sheet, but not pressed until the paper has absorbed the dampness all around. Pressing too soon will emboss wrinkles in the stock.

      After some hours, again, flip and turn the stacks, taking half of each and flipping the inside sheets to be against the felts, and rebuild the cake again. After all this, the sheets will be nicely damp across the board.

      Again, they're not WET, but the difference in the printed piece is like night & day!

      If you're doing 5000 letterheads, it's pointless, of course... But 100 invitations yes!

      The final point is that with proper storage, the paper should already have a good bit of moisture in it, which may well make all of the above somewhat academic for anything but the printing of high-density woodcuts, engravings, or wood type sized letters.

      Looking forward to getting back to the shop!

      Peter
      Galena, Illinois
      on the edge of the Mississippi...

      At 10:45 AM -0500 2002-11-27, <knharper@...> wrote:
      >Gerald: Your question about ink spread and dampening the paper was a good one.
      >I had experienced some difficulty with this a few months ago, and it kinda put me off
      >of the dampening process. I have also read many methods of paper dampening,
      >some of which resemble voo-doo. I know a few printers who never print dry,
      >however, and their work is quite nice. Is dampening the paper something that one
      >always wants to do, or is it a technique that is good at some times and not at
      >others?
      >
      >Katie Harper
      >
      >
      >> From: "Gerald Lange" <bieler@...>
      >> Date: 2002/11/27 Wed AM 05:20:10 EST
      >> To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
      >> Subject: [PPLetterpress] Re: Letterpress v. Offset Inks
      >>
      >> Peter and others
      >>
      >> I use magesium carbonate for most inks, and I tend to use a lot of it,
      >> but I'm working with Vandercooks and dampened paper. On a C&P,
      >> printing on domestic grade papers, you would not want an ink too
      >> "short" or stiff. I will occasionally cut an ink with varnish but very
      >> cautiously. Cutting is much more of a dramatic change to the
      >> characteristics of an ink than adding mag carb (which only increases
      > > viscosity or resistance to flow). I suspect inks designated as
      >> letterpress are much better for machine driven presses and
      >> lithographic inks (especially those intended for printmaking) are
      >> better for hand operated presses. Commercial offset inks I have not
      >> tried but I suspect that if Speed and Katie have experienced success
      >> with them those are certainly the inks they would want to use.
      >>
      >> Thanks to all who responsed to my question, especially as it pertained
      >> to dampening. I think this may well be a matter of reaction to hydration.
      >>
      >> Gerald
      >>
      >> --- In PPLetterpress@y..., Peter Fraterdeus <peterf@d...> wrote:
      >> > And what about magensium carbonate?
      >> >
      >> > I'd often use this in a long ink to shorten it.
      >> > Makes for a lovely matt finish in the ink also.
      >> >
      >> > P
      >> >
      >> > At 9:38 AM -0500 2002-11-26, Katie Harper wrote:
      >> > >I was also once told to cut offset inks with a bit of varnish, but have
      >> > >wondered then and now why I should do that as the inks seem to be
      >> "loose"
      >> > >enough as is. What would the varnish do to improve things? What are the
      >> > >downsides? Can anyone explain? Thanks.
      >> > >
      >> > >
      >> > >
      >> > >
      >> > >Katie Harper
      >> > >Ars Brevis Press
      >> > >Cincinnati, OH
      > > > >513-233-9588
      > > > >http://www.arsbrevispress.com
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >> From: speedgray@a...
      > > > >> Reply-To: PPLetterpress@y...
      > > > >> Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 08:00:26 EST
      > > > >> To: PPLetterpress@y...
      >> > >> Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Letterpress v. Offset Inks
      >> > >>
      >> > >> I have been using offset inks on letterpress for years; it works
      >> great!
      >> > >> Offset inks are formulated to resist the dampening solution in
      >> the offset
      >> > >> process, and are generally higher in pigment content than the
      >> letterpress
      >> > >> equivalent.
      >> > >>
      >> > >> Due to the heavier body of offset inks, I sometimes cut them with
      >> some 00
      >> > >> varnish to make them flow easier. Other than that, they have been
      >> my only
      >> > >> inks in the shop.
      >> > >>
      >> > >> Speed Gray, APA 736
      >> > >> The Gray Quill Press
      >> > >> Grand Rapids, MI
      >> > >>
      >> > >>
      >> > >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >> > >>
      >> > >>
      >> > >>
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      >> > Peter Fraterdeus -:- peterf@s... -:- Galena, Illinois
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