May 02, 2010

Misregistration Irritation

Trying to decide which colour will be next in a reduction print is often a bit of a shell game for me.  This is because the whole "print from light to dark" concept isn't always 100% applicable.  Like in my current print, where the values of the three colours still to be printed (red, green, and blue) are much the same with none really lighter than the others.  In such a case, which colour should go down first?  Luckily, or unluckily, I delayed that decision for one more week by remembering I planned to add another, lighter, colour before the last three.  So, today, I printed the pale sage/mint green here:   

Although I didn't have it in my original colour sketch, I'm adding it in to flesh out the leaves around the blooms.  Because it is a green, I figure it won't really take me away from my yellow, red, blue, green theme.

But what an F-ing frustrating printing session today!  I ran into issues with registration and, no matter what I tried to get around them, I couldn't get my colours to line up.  In most of the prints it's minor, as in the image above, and I'm hoping the next darker colour will overshadow the problem.  In one or two cases however, it's really obvious.  In the example below, none of the yellow shadows are supposed to be there.  Grrrrrrr!

I'm pretty sure this is because I'm using a lighter-weight paper than I normally do.  My favourite is BFK Rives but, because it can get pricey, I usually print on Rising Stonehenge 250 gsm.  It's a sturdy paper that stands up well to the many ink layers I often end up with in my reductions.  The thing is, I also like the look of lighter, Japanese-style, papers and a while ago bought several sheets of Masa: a machine made, Japanese type hybrid, smooth on one side and textured on the other.  At 77 gsm it's way lighter than I'm used to and I've only used it so far for the single-ink prints I've done.  But I was curious to see how it would stand up to more than one colour and, since I'm not using that many colours in this print, I thought I'd give it a try. 

The registration problem I'm running into is not with the paper as such, but with the registration method I use:  a three-hole punch attached to a piece of plexi-glass laid on top of my press bed.  I've got a couple of images of it at the bottom of the post here along with the link to the Andrew Gott original WetCanvas post I based my system on.  Just to be clear, so far, this method has worked supremely well for me.  But I've always used a heavier paper.  Now, the holes I've punched into the top of the lighter-weight Masa are stretching a bit and the paper is sliding around.  Very little but enough to throw off the registration.  I'm going to have to figure out a solution for this problem by next time or I'll be screwed.  And, I'll end up with a lot more prints to turn into bookmarks than I have need for.  


Amie Roman said...

I found exactly the same, frustrating thing. With light papers, each use of the holepunch registration causes the holes to distort ever so slightly. I found the best way around this was to mount a strip of heavier paper along the edge that I used for the hole punch, then hole punch that strip, then cut everything off after the final printing was finished. There might be better ways, but that was the quick & dirty solution I came up with. Of course, then I just switched to my current method of laying the block down onto the paper which seems to work consistently now (through the press anyway). Good luck! Misregistration is such a pain in a multicolour print.

Sherrie Y said...

(giggling) I'm tired. I read Amy's last line as "such a pain in a multicolor BUTT." It's a striking mental image, don't you think?

My commiserations.... registration headaches are... well.... a pain in a multicolor.... oh, YOU know.

Libby Fife said...

The colors you chose are really lovely. Sorry about the frustration though-it does take up some time:(

Amie Roman said...

Katka - Dean Russell Thompson just posted a very detailed set of instructions for how he works his punch registration system on his blog Copper Plate Daily. Not the same as Andrew's but it's got some really great points, and obviously is a result of some trial and error. Dean prints from some large blocks, so if this is consistently successful for him, then it's definitely a good system to learn from.

Katka said...

Thanks for your comments everyone. Your commiseration is much appreciated.

Yes, a pain in the BUTT indeed...

Thank you. I am very pleased with how the colours have turned out.

Amie, thanks for the link to Russel's blog. I will definitely check it out.