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Washed out...

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  • Ky Wrzesinski
    Folks, I ve been a lurker here for awhile, and I recently built a home made exposure unit, and washed out a couple plates using the instruction from a how to
    Message 1 of 7 , Mar 27, 2002
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      Folks,

      I've been a lurker here for awhile, and I recently built a home made
      exposure unit, and washed out a couple plates using the instruction
      from a "how to make rubber stamps" video. The plate looks okay, but I
      haven't printed from it. It has some obvious visual flaws that look like
      they probably occurred during washout. I monitored the plate as I
      "scurbbed" and some areas look a little "too" washed as I progressed.

      I aim to build a homemade manual washout unit that supports a painting pad,
      or similar soft bristled pad at a fixed distance/pressure with respect to
      the plate. Ideally, I'd like this to mimic the action of an automatic
      unit, but I have never seen one operate. If someone could describe the
      auto-washout action- it'd be greatly appreciated.

      On an automatic unit-

      What is the action of the washout brush? circular? Random orbit?
      side-to-side? Does it matter?

      Is a gentle "swishing" action enough action to wash out the plate? Does it
      need a
      "scrub"?

      What is the washout brush material like? Any suggestions for analogus
      fabric/fur/paint pad?

      How important is temperature during the washout? 95 degrees I've heard is
      typical? Is this regulated in an auto unit? Does soft or hard water have
      an effect?

      Anything that an auto washout unit does aside from being a scrubber with
      timer and a drain?

      Lastly, is there a good book about making "good" polymer plates? A generic
      manual about the different types of photopolymers, items affecting
      exposure/washout, etc. I know books exists about printing form
      photopolymer, but am bewildered about the polymer plates themselves.

      Thanks,
      -Ky
    • Gerald Lange
      Dear Ky I suspect the washout process is considered such a simple step that a lot of folks, such as yourself, figure why not do it yourself. There are a good
      Message 2 of 7 , Mar 31, 2002
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        Dear Ky

        I suspect the washout process is considered such a simple step that a lot of
        folks, such as yourself, figure why not do it yourself. There are a good
        percentage of alt processors on this list (I’m not one of them) who swear the
        merits of hand water washout. Usually, that is, until they buy a processing machine.

        Yes, the washout unit is nothing but a scrubber with a timer and a drain. The
        exposing unit is nothing but a bank of lamps positioned over a vacuum table.
        The dryer is nothing but an oven. These are all quite simple processes and as
        a result invite substitution. Mainly because as simple as the processing
        machines are, they are also prohibitively expensive.

        Their main advantage is that they do all of the processing in a very
        controlled and uniform way, and, yes, they are timed. And the timing is
        crucial. Processing with a machine is boring and not at all interesting
        anyway. Processing without a machine... ? I can’t image why anyone would want
        to go through that lunacy since the risk of damaging plates is costly and
        professional plate processing fees are certainly cheaper than Monotype comp
        (not only in cost but in the overall amount of energy required to process the
        comp from opening the boxes, proofing, correcting, etc through distributing
        the type). The idea here, for me, is simply to get to the press, and have the
        best material available to me when I get there. The press has enough problems
        waiting for. In this regard, this is no different than metal comp, if you
        didn’t do the comp correctly and can’t secure a proper lockup, you have
        problems that are only going to get worse. If you have an inadequately made
        plate you will fight to correct this during the entire printing process. Life
        can be so much easier.

        But to address your “washed-out” questions. First of all the brushes, unlike
        in hand washout are _at all times fully engaged with the entire plate_. They
        move in a circular fashion for a timed cycle, halt, pause, then reverse
        themselves, etc. This is fundamentally different than can be achieved with
        hand washout with a brush, whether it be toothbrush (!) or horse brush.
        Temperature and acidity of the water are important. These vary but the 95
        degree figure you gave seems right depending upon the plate material, etc. The
        water needs to be slightly acidic (a cup of vinegar in the bath will do), as
        opposed to slightly alkaline.

        Re: reading material: Most of the information out there is in the form of
        technical reports. Often the necessary information of use to the letterpress
        practitioner has to be culled from a mass of unrelated stuff. I really don’t
        know of an information source that will provide you exactly with what you need
        without also adding to the confusion. I have put some of the more pertinent
        reports in the Files here or have provided links to pages I have found to be
        of interest. Besides my own, there are now a couple of books on printmaking
        with photopolymer. I’ve provided reference to these in the Database tables.

        There are stand-alone washout units available from rubber stamp suppliers,
        etc. I know that Gene Becker was carrying something like this several years
        ago. There are probably a number of these floating around on the used
        equipment markets. I’d suspect putting a little time into finding one of these
        would pay off much more than trying to reinvent the wheel yourself.

        All best with it

        Gerald
      • Gerald Lange
        Dear Ed Probably a poor choice of words on my part. As is your use of the word logic. Working with craft in this day and age is not illogical behavior. I can
        Message 3 of 7 , Mar 31, 2002
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          Dear Ed

          Probably a poor choice of words on my part. As is your use of the word logic.
          Working with craft in this day and age is not illogical behavior. I can
          appreciate the Dard Hunter approach: make your own paper, design and cast your
          own type, print on an iron handpress, bind your own books, etc.

          However. One is not working at the preliminary stage of technique when one is
          hand processing a photopolymer plate (as an economic shortcut) as one would be
          if he/she were cutting a punch or cutting a woodengraving. In either case one
          would want the best tools available to them to engage in the task. Technology
          cannot improve on the skilled punchcutter or woodengraver. The "craft" in
          regard to processing photopolymer plates, however, belongs to the engineers
          who figured it out, and the technicians who enabled it to be mass-produced.

          David Pye, in his _The Nature and Art of Workmanship_ has a wonderful term for
          this which I cannot now remember. But I do remember this: In his _Printing
          with the Handpress_, Lewis Allen wrote, "inferior tools corrode the spirit."
          There is a difference.

          I knew an enthusiastic young printer, who, rather than buy used typecases at
          the going rate of $4 to $12 dependent upon how lucky you were, decided he'd
          rather make his own. As far as I know, he never actually made a typecase, or
          for that matter, ever got around to printing anything either.

          Gerald


          Ed Inman wrote:
          >
          > Gerald wrote:
          > >>>Processing without a machine... ? I can't image why anyone would want
          > > to go through that lunacy . . .
          > > Life can be so much easier.<<<
          >
          > Using this logic why would anyone want to go through the "lunacy" of
          > letterpress printing to begin with in an age of high speed, high quality
          > digital and offset imaging?
          >
          > I believe that art is partly about learning things that can be learned and
          > doing things than can be done--and compared to many processes, reliable hand
          > washout of photopolymer plates really isn't that difficult to master for
          > artists willing to experiment and learn.
          >
          > Ed
        • Ed Inman
          ... Using this logic why would anyone want to go through the lunacy of letterpress printing to begin with in an age of high speed, high quality digital and
          Message 4 of 7 , Mar 31, 2002
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            Gerald wrote:
            >>>Processing without a machine... ? I can't image why anyone would want
            > to go through that lunacy . . .
            > Life can be so much easier.<<<

            Using this logic why would anyone want to go through the "lunacy" of
            letterpress printing to begin with in an age of high speed, high quality
            digital and offset imaging?

            I believe that art is partly about learning things that can be learned and
            doing things than can be done--and compared to many processes, reliable hand
            washout of photopolymer plates really isn't that difficult to master for
            artists willing to experiment and learn.

            Ed
          • Jessica
            Pye calls it workmanship of risk versus workmanship of certainty. --Jessica ... Springtide Press Graphic Design and Letterpress Printing 773.465.8636
            Message 5 of 7 , Apr 1, 2002
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              Pye calls it "workmanship of risk" versus "workmanship of certainty."
              --Jessica

              --------------------------------------------------
              Springtide Press
              Graphic Design and Letterpress Printing
              773.465.8636
              www.springtidepress.com
              --------------------------------------------------


              From: Gerald Lange <bieler@...>
              Organization: Bieler Press
              Reply-To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Sun, 31 Mar 2002 23:13:02 +0000
              To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Re: Washed out...


              Dear Ed

              Probably a poor choice of words on my part. As is your use of the word
              logic.
              Working with craft in this day and age is not illogical behavior. I can
              appreciate the Dard Hunter approach: make your own paper, design and cast
              your
              own type, print on an iron handpress, bind your own books, etc.

              However. One is not working at the preliminary stage of technique when one
              is
              hand processing a photopolymer plate (as an economic shortcut) as one would
              be
              if he/she were cutting a punch or cutting a woodengraving. In either case
              one
              would want the best tools available to them to engage in the task.
              Technology
              cannot improve on the skilled punchcutter or woodengraver. The "craft" in
              regard to processing photopolymer plates, however, belongs to the engineers
              who figured it out, and the technicians who enabled it to be mass-produced.

              David Pye, in his _The Nature and Art of Workmanship_ has a wonderful term
              for
              this which I cannot now remember. But I do remember this: In his _Printing
              with the Handpress_, Lewis Allen wrote, "inferior tools corrode the spirit."
              There is a difference.

              I knew an enthusiastic young printer, who, rather than buy used typecases at
              the going rate of $4 to $12 dependent upon how lucky you were, decided he'd
              rather make his own. As far as I know, he never actually made a typecase, or
              for that matter, ever got around to printing anything either.

              Gerald


              Ed Inman wrote:
              >
              > Gerald wrote:
              > >>>Processing without a machine... ? I can't image why anyone would want
              > > to go through that lunacy . . .
              > > Life can be so much easier.<<<
              >
              > Using this logic why would anyone want to go through the "lunacy" of
              > letterpress printing to begin with in an age of high speed, high quality
              > digital and offset imaging?
              >
              > I believe that art is partly about learning things that can be learned and
              > doing things than can be done--and compared to many processes, reliable hand
              > washout of photopolymer plates really isn't that difficult to master for
              > artists willing to experiment and learn.
              >
              > Ed

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            • Ed Inman
              ... is ... would be ... Agreed. I m not an absolutist about doing everything at a preliminary stage. Nor do I have anything against machines for those who can
              Message 6 of 7 , Apr 1, 2002
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                Gerald wrote:

                > However. One is not working at the preliminary stage of technique when one
                is
                > hand processing a photopolymer plate (as an economic shortcut) as one
                would be
                > if he/she were cutting a punch or cutting a woodengraving.

                Agreed. I'm not an absolutist about doing everything at a preliminary
                stage. Nor do I have anything against machines for those who can justify
                their cost.

                > In his _Printing
                > with the Handpress_, Lewis Allen wrote, "inferior tools corrode the
                spirit."
                > There is a difference.

                I'm not sure in what context Mr. Allen was making this point, but if I may
                be allowed a counterpoint it would be that tools, no matter how
                sophisticated or primitive, are only as good as how they are used.

                Saying that only people who can afford platemakers can make good plates is
                sort of like saying only people who can afford Hasselblads can take good
                pictures.

                Such a position no doubt makes very good sense to those who own platemakers
                and Hasselblads, but I'm not sure how helpful it is to those who can
                appreciate making the most out of more modest tools.

                Hand washout takes some practice and may not always be perfect, no doubt,
                but for some people that is part of the challenge and part of the fun.

                Ed
              • bielerpr
                Dear EdGood come-back—though now when someone s got problems with hand washout I m going to expect YOU to respond and guide them along!!!All best
                Message 7 of 7 , Apr 1, 2002
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                  Dear Ed

                  Good come-back—though now when someone's got problems with hand
                  washout I'm going to expect YOU to respond and guide them along!!!

                  All best

                  Gerald

                  --- In PPLetterpress@y..., "Ed Inman" <edinman@e...> wrote:
                  > Gerald wrote:
                  >
                  > > However. One is not working at the preliminary stage of technique when =
                  one
                  > is
                  > > hand processing a photopolymer plate (as an economic shortcut) as one
                  > would be
                  > > if he/she were cutting a punch or cutting a woodengraving.
                  >
                  > Agreed. I'm not an absolutist about doing everything at a preliminary
                  > stage. Nor do I have anything against machines for those who can justify
                  > their cost.
                  >
                  > > In his _Printing
                  > > with the Handpress_, Lewis Allen wrote, "inferior tools corrode the
                  > spirit."
                  > > There is a difference.
                  >
                  > I'm not sure in what context Mr. Allen was making this point, but if I ma=
                  y
                  > be allowed a counterpoint it would be that tools, no matter how
                  > sophisticated or primitive, are only as good as how they are used.
                  >
                  > Saying that only people who can afford platemakers can make good plates i=
                  s
                  > sort of like saying only people who can afford Hasselblads can take good
                  > pictures.
                  >
                  > Such a position no doubt makes very good sense to those who own platemake=
                  rs
                  > and Hasselblads, but I'm not sure how helpful it is to those who can
                  > appreciate making the most out of more modest tools.
                  >
                  > Hand washout takes some practice and may not always be perfect, no doubt,=

                  > but for some people that is part of the challenge and part of the fun.
                  >
                  > Ed
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