Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gum print progress

Since I've begun my fall semester, I haven't mentioned any gum print progress.  A couple of weeks ago, I was able to gather two sample prints work talking about.   I must admit that it has taken me well over a month to get this printbelow .  There was a whole lot of time, dedication and frustration too.  This image was printed well over four times too.

A lot of this gum printing semester has been getting things down correctly and calculable.  I started with lots of changes in paper, brushes and pigments.  90lb paper, out.  150lb, in.  Foam brushes, out.  Hake brushes, in.  Gouche, out.  Watercolor, in.

I moved moved onto proper ways to coat paper and develop prints.  Patience plays a key part in this step.  Wait too soon for a coating to dry?  Goodbye print, it'll just wash down the drain.  Wait too long to expose a print?  Goodluck trying to wash out anything to even see a print.  Likewise with developing.  I've had the luxury and misfortune of abusing a print too much in the water to see images dissolve and appear.  It is a delicate relationship.

The most challenging hurdle has been negative density and proper exposure.  Editing my negatives for output has never been a strong skill for me and learning to do so with gum prints has been difficult.  I have managed to take the guess work out of a properly curved negative (thanks to use of step wedges) and now I find myself reading the density of a negative and visualizing the final outcome before printing.

But all that mumble-jumble leads me to this print:

And to say this as humbly as I can, it is my best so far.  This is my first six layer gum print.  It took me four days...

I present it to you like it were my own child. 

All joking aside, I do realize this print needs some help.  It seems for me, when one issue is fixed, another arises.  May I present to you, visible staining:

All that speckling in the image is caused by the pigment soaking into the paper, causing each little speckle to build up to a black dot.  This issue arises when the integrity of the initial sizing is compromised.  I have done a few tests with some choices methods of sizing and I still haven't found a suitable coating that causes less staining.  I did some research and one method, I have not tried is liquid PVA diluted down and then coated onto the paper.  

I have tried various brands of matte medium, liquid matte medium, aerosol spray gesso, and watercolor sizing liquid to no avail.  I find that if my gum doesn't just slide off the paper, then I get this kind of speckled staining happening.  With both ends of the spectrum being negatives, it's extremely hard for me to find that perfect middle/positive.

So, more testing, more experimenting, MORE GUM PRINTING FUN!!!!

Hopefully I'll be showing more of my tests and prints in the weeks to come.

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