Indian Summer, viscosity etching, ed. 20.  Entire edition printed at once in 1982

ensuring consistent prints can be achieved

Since most of my plates require multiple colors of ink and the wiping of the plate  involves strategies to blend colors or retain discrete areas of color, I started making detailed notes.  I wrote “recipes” for the colors, especially when mixing several to get an exact hue.  Wiping plans  included the order of application of color to the plate, and how “clean” each color was to be wiped before application of the next color and sometimes even which direction to drag the rag across the plate.  Finally, I saved packets of color in aluminum foil and sealed in sandwich bags, to have a sample of the ink to use in mixing a matching  batch later, if necessary.

I tried to always take these steps in order to ensure consistent results, and over the years I found them to be very helpful..There are a number of editions that have been printed incrementally in batches of 5 or so at a time.

Deciding whether to Print  the entire edition at once

In the early years, I printed editions out and canceled the plate before moving on to the  next print.  This changed when show deadlines started to come up faster than I could print out all that edition work.  It was important to create new work for the shows so I bagan to print out a few for each plate – the “bon a tirer” or match print, which would remain in my records, and then numbers 1-3 or 1-5 – enough to get the prints for the show and maybe have a matted impression or twp for the bin as well.

Quickly this became the practice, because making new work is always more fun than printing out the edition even when there are no deadline pressures!  Not to mention that having entire editions printed is a significant investment in paper, ink, and time – and storage space.  It does feel awkward to me to sign the Certificates of Authenticity with a statement that the plate WILL be canceled when the edition is complete, instead of that is HAS BEEN canceled.

Because many of my etchings are printed in multiple colors in the á la poupée technique, and it takes a number of trials to get the image right in the first place, I was concerned about how to effectively produce matching prints at a later time.

Temple at Gora, etching, ed. 150

Temple at Gora was originally represented by a print dealer, so the edition was set at 150.     To date (November 2023), 63 edtion impressions  and 5 artists proofs have been printed.  Of those, 2 AP (Artists Proofs) and 2 edition prints remain. These were produced in batches of 10-20 at a time over a period o years.  The plate is stored in my studio, protected by etching ground, until another batch may be needed.

Receently, to my surprise, I found that I have not been quite as consistent in this practice as I had thought.  I intended to print batches of a half dozen or so prints during October and November of this year,  I found the plates, and tore the paper in preparation, and then went looking for the ink packets and the wipe plans. I went through nearly 40 years of notes and ink packets, and I could not find two of the ones I was searching for.  Fortunately, I was able to match the inks and wipes well enough on those two images, but it did give me pause!

My eyesight has deteriorated so much since I wrote those first tiny packet labels with a very fine point pen in print that must be about the same as a 9 pt font!  I never dreamed back then that I wouldn’t be able to read something so tiny!  At least I used permanent ink markers. I had to use my iPad as a magnifying device to decipher the identifying numbers on the labels. I took the time to create much larger labels with a broader Sharpie in hopes of identifying them more easily next time! 

It also made me realize that many of my editions will likely never be printed to the completion. I may have a lot of years left, but my eyesight is making accurate wiping much more challenging.  I decided while preparing for the 7 Printmakers exhibition this year to make small editions of all of the new ones, and print them out, rather than follow my former practice.  My editions this year were all 10 and the plates have been canceled.

I hope I can continue to make new work for a while yet, but relying on my ability to print edition prints to the same standard at some future date no longer feels like a viable propoition!


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