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.