Tuesday, 20 January 2009

my process

When I print, it never just happens willy nilly. It's a planned and methodical process. The timing and set up is crucial to a successful day of printing for me. By controlling my printing environment, I rarely worry about "not feeling" like printing because I'll have already conditioned myself to print by setting up everything just so! Here's usually how it goes:

Saturday printing. Always. The 9-5 is in the way during the week and so I've only got the two day weekend. Sunday, I like to relax. And that leaves Saturday.

Cut paper and plates a day before printing. This allows me to just set up the plates in the chase, registration and paper on the platen the day of.

A good night's sleep, a must. I'll sleep as early as 9pm on a Friday night to get up early. If it's a late night, I'm totally useless the next day.

I ask myself in the morning, "How do I feel today?". And more often than not, when it's a printing day - I feel excited about it. And knowing that I've got the paper/plates cut from the day before, I'm ready to go!

Have a small breakfast. Cereal does the trick. But I'm sometimes treated to fried eggs cooked up by the husband.

Open up the curtains and let the light in. The press is set up in a room with a west facing window. Not the best exposure, but it's good enough. The more natural light I have, the better I can judge the ink colour while mixing. That, and I just feel better surrounded by natural light.

Mix ink. I clear off the desk space and make room for my cans of ink and mixing glass plate. This process usually takes me the most time so I make sure I'm comfortable while standing and mixing.

Turn on the computer and playlist. Like the lighting, music is a feel good technique. Of late, I've been tuning into the playlist from my wedding a few months ago. Brings me good memories and it's only the good stuff to help break the repetitive motion of printing.

No rush. I have no sense of time when I'm in the middle of printing. I could start at 8am and finish up at 3pm and not even notice. I can't help but take my time by inspecting each print and walking them to the drying table. One at a time.

Whip out the camera. Documenting the process helps me keep record of what I do and how I do it. I may come across a problem and want a snapshot of the solution. Otherwise, I like to capture moments of printing especially if it's for a client. They rarely get to see the behind the scenes and it's a treat once they've got the print in their hands.

Lunch break. I never used to do this. I would go without a lunch just so that my focus wasn't disrupted. But I soon realized that the prints suffered from this if I lost stamina. So, what I do is take a lunch break when it makes sense during the process. For example, take lunch after one run of passes through the press before beginning a second run of a different colour of ink.

Clean up is meditative. I've always enjoyed this part of the process. I usually clean as I go so that the clean up is at a minimum by the end of it. But still there are the rollers and the disc. Then the plates and the mixing knives. Everything goes back into their places, ready for the next day of printing.

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