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Re: [PPLetterpress] Plate making

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  • Katie Harper
    Go hand washers! I didn t mean to imply that machine is the only way to go, and I m so glad that my response has brought some of the hand washers out of the
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
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      Go hand washers!

      I didn't mean to imply that machine is the only way to go, and I'm so glad
      that my response has brought some of the hand washers out of the woodwork!
      Frankly, since I don't have a machine, I'd love to get the hand methods to
      work so I could use them more frequently. I really followed with avid
      interest the recent thread about professional imagesetter film vs. laser
      output. As I said in earlier response to Tim, my preference for
      machine-based methods is based on MY experience. After trying many different
      methods and tests for exposure and washout, and despite having some very
      nice exposing vacuum tables at my disposal, I finally (and very reluctantly)
      gave up on fine detail, as I was spoiling too many plates trying to do it
      myself. As a teacher, I have researched many teaching methods for exposure
      and washout, even those as crude as putting a handmade negative (or positive
      for intaglio) over a plate under glass under the sun. But when I query
      professional letterpress printers who do fine press work, almost all have
      told me that machine exposure/washout is the only way to go. This may be
      because they need consistent, reliable results and it's cheaper and easier
      in the long run to order plates rather that go through the trial and error
      experimentation required to get good results themselves.

      I would love to be converted to the hand washing side. The only
      documentation about hand methods I have found usually consists of handouts
      given out by printmaking professors who admit that results are
      "unpredictable" and are mostly for intaglio and not letterpress. Is there a
      better source of information on the hand methods???


      Katie Harper
      Ars Brevis Press
      Cincinnati, OH
      513-233-9588

      Remember: Book arts will save the world!



      > From: typetom@...
      > Reply-To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
      > Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2002 14:04:41 EST
      > To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Plate making
      >
      > I beg to differ somewhat with Katie's response -- of course!
      > Hand-washers unite!
      > (or shake hands! or shake a fist!)
      > Small type and fine details are entirely possible with hand-washout.
      > Occasionally I have made even 6 point and very fine-lined scripts. (I have
      > seen a beautiful trial of 4 point type done by machine-made polymers, printed
      > by the late Jim Trissel some years ago).
      >
      > I agree there are a myriad of quirky factors involved, and extreme difficulty
      > in diagnosing exactly what is causing a poor result. Almost everyone seems to
      > have a different solution and procedure -- I even contradict myself trying to
      > figure out some problems. The perfect answer (my absolutely correct, personal
      > quirky process), which has taken several years of making less-than-perfect
      > plates, of course will change the next time I have difficulty.
      >
      > Any rate, it may help, Tim, for you to describe more precisely what you mean
      > by trouble "getting a clear image on the plate." Could well be it's not a
      > washout problem but an exposure problem. There are multiple variables.
      > Katie's list is a good start. I would stress good contact between negative
      > and plate, and add that exposure time greatly accents or solves or aggravates
      > various situations, and that the length of time in washing also can cause or
      > solve some difficulties. Getting a machine to do the washout may solve the
      > problem, but I'm not convinced it will help you understand it! But as Goudy
      > pointed out, machines are tools; the challenge is to use them as we use our
      > hands: if they make for good results, more power!
      >
      > Best wishes, Tom
      >
      > Tom Parson
      > Now It's Up To You Publications
      > 157 S. Logan, Denver CO 80209
      > (303) 777-8951
      > http://members.aol.com/typetom
      >
      >
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    • bielerpr
      Dear Katie ... This is the most current I ve been able to find. Very elementary, but has photos. There is also a URL to this in Bookmarks under Tech Info.
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
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        Dear Katie

        Katie Harper <knharper@f...> wrote:
        > Go hand washers!

        > I would love to be converted to the hand washing side. The only
        > documentation about hand methods I have found usually consists of
        > handouts given out by printmaking professors who admit that results
        > are "unpredictable" and are mostly for intaglio and not letterpress.
        > Is there a better source of information on the hand methods???

        This is the most current I've been able to find. Very elementary, but
        has photos. There is also a URL to this in Bookmarks under Tech Info.

        http://www.printstudio.com.au/Poly3.htm

        There is also a book called _Printmaking with Photopolmyer Plates_
        by Dianne Longley, the owner of the above webside. I have this listed
        here in a Database table called References. I've never seen it so I don't
        know into what detail it goes.

        Gene Becker also has a one-page sales sheet on hand methods at his
        website.

        www.photopolymerplates.com

        All best

        Gerald
      • edinman
        I do the hand washout thing with very good results--it took a little practice but it s really not hard. I think the main thing besides adequate exposure under
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
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          I do the hand washout thing with very good results--it took a little
          practice but it's really not hard. I think the main thing besides adequate
          exposure under a tight negative is to be patient and gentle.

          The unexposed polymer will almost just wash itself off the plate under warm
          water--just don't get impatient and try to brush too hard--that is when fine
          detail will start to break up.

          I can't really say that I typically use such plate for 6 pt. type,
          though--mostly just line artwork. I usually set or cast all type in
          metal--much cheaper that way (at least in terms of material cost).

          Just my .02,
          Ed
        • typetom@aol.com
          edinman@earthlink.net writes:
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
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            edinman@... writes:
            <<I think the main thing besides adequate exposure under a tight negative is
            to be patient and gentle.... just don't get impatient and try to brush too
            hard--that is when fine detail will start to break up. >>

            I would add to this perhaps some refinement. Too much patience also can
            result in loss of serifs and details. How so? As the plate is soaked and
            washed, the unexposed parts absorb water and dissolve. This can occur under
            the hardened surface of exposed lines, so that the serif or thin line may
            lift off and be brushed away. I think it's not so much that the brush is
            damaging the surface image but that it is separating it from softer material
            below. So, fine lines benefit from slight over exposure, which allows more of
            the polymer to harden down the shoulders below the surface of the image. And
            similarly, fine lines would benefit from somewhat faster washout time, thus
            not allowing the supporting material to absorb so much water, but leaving the
            surface image better attached. So the success in preserving a delicate image
            is not just dependent on delicate brushing -- in fact it may help to brush a
            bit more aggressively, as odd as that seems. These factors can be felt by
            considering differences in hand-brushing a small versus a large plate. Using
            a small brush, it takes longer to work over the whole surface of a larger
            plate, so the larger plate takes longer to wash out. The result is that,
            while small plates may easily come out fine, larger plates may develop broken
            lines. A quicker washout may help. A parallel answer might be to halt the
            washout a bit earlier, before all the unexposed material has been cleaned
            away (and then trust the drying and the second exposure to reduce and harden
            that material).

            One thing I have found very useful is to keep an eye on the clock. If I have
            been gentle and patient but the plate isn't clean after about 10 minutes (in
            my experience, with the small brush and water temp I use) then I know it's
            probably time to stop anyhow. For me, it has been hard to stop cleaning --
            just as it is difficult for me to leave an irregular pile of freshly printed
            sheets as they sit rather than jog them straight. Naturally compulsive about
            straightening and finishing details, I guess. I've had to discipline my self.
            Watching the clock has made a difference.

            It seems there are several complex factors at work, and analysis of these
            things may produce contradictory conclusions about what's best to do. I am
            still puzzled how these various decisions can be made in the machine washout
            process. And it may be that the success of the machine process suggests to me
            that exposure time and washing time may be more important than the delicate
            touch. But mostly, I think, no one of my conclusions is the whole answer, and
            surely a gentle and patient touch must be a goal and a process for us all.

            Best wishes, Tom

            Tom Parson
            Now It's Up To You Publications
            157 S. Logan, Denver CO 80209
            (303) 777-8951
            http://members.aol.com/typetom
          • Harold Kyle
            ... You are certainly correct that trial and error is expensive. I think that the cost of the plate material should give any novice second thoughts about
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 7, 2002
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              On 1/6/02 5:28 PM, "Katie Harper" <knharper@...> wrote:
              > This may be
              > because they need consistent, reliable results and it's cheaper and easier
              > in the long run to order plates rather that go through the trial and error
              > experimentation required to get good results themselves.

              You are certainly correct that trial and error is expensive. I think that
              the cost of the plate material should give any novice second thoughts about
              diving into the hand washing of plates.

              That said, I purchased a machine-washout platemaker after years of "trial
              and error" and consistent success with hand-washout. The volume of work in
              my shop convinced me because the commercial units are efficient and save
              precious time.

              Although I was pleased with my results while hand-washing (and didn't expect
              any improvement was possible), the results from the machine washout are
              superior. This came as quite a surprise. With eighteen 40W bulbs I'm getting
              much more even exposure than the eight 20W I used to use (now there are no
              light corners or banding). The evenness of the brush pressure and repeatable
              functions of the new platemaker mean sharper detail and noticeably crisper
              appearance.

              Larger (and, needless to say, more expensive) plates are particularly
              improved, because I don't need to submerge an 11x17 plate for fifteen
              minutes of scrubbing with a 4x8 brush. Remember that the adhesive which
              holds the polymer on the backing eventually dissolves in water--small
              details are the first to go when washout times increase.

              Hand-washing often works on medium to small-size plates, but a machine will
              always do a superior job and can process the biggest plates just as well as
              the smallest plates.

              Harold Kyle

              ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
              Boxcar Press
              Fine Printing and Binding ~ Digital Letterpress Supplies
              640 Fellows Avenue ~ Syracuse, NY 13210
              www.boxcarpress.com
              ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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