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  • Writer's pictureChiara

Rescue remedies

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

One of my priorities today was to get some advice about my rice paper and kozo prints which dried badly. Enter Kyoko Imazu, our technical officer and an experienced printmaker.

Kyoko showed me how to sandwich the prints between evenly damp sheets of newsprint and bundle them up in a plastic sleeve to equalise the moisture and help the paper to relax.

We started with only the worst affected prints, and left them there for a couple of hours.

The prints did become evenly damp and I was hopeful they would improve. The next step was putting them back between fresh layers of dry newsprint between the caneite boards. When I checked on them to change the newsprint they were wrinkled again and it was clear that they had taken on the wrinkles from the newsprint which wrinkles as it absorbs the moisture. So I had a diagnosis, but not a solution.

I wasn't ready to give up and I had time to have another go while I continued to install my other work, so it was back to the damp newsprint sandwich and plastic sleeve for another relaxation session for the prints.

This time I pegged them on the drying rack and left them overnight. I'll see tomorrow how they've dried.

As it turned out, I was sick the next day--and for a week after that--so I had to rely on Kyoko to rescue my paper from the drying rack. It didn't seem to have improved any. I tried ironing it on a low setting, but that wasn't much help either.

As well as teaching me to make the damp paper bundle in the Japanese style, Kyoko gave me some important perspective. The papers I have used are very thin, and some wrinkling is inevitable, so having gone through a range of emotions on their behalf over the past few days it may be time to accept them for what they are.

For future reference here is a video of Laura Bowsell explaining how to make a damp pack for Japanese wood block printing. I think using this technique would have prevented the problems, but wasn't enough to sort them out once the wrinkles were in place.

My final attempt at rescue was to re-dampen the pages (again) and dry them under light weights interleaved with blotting paper rather than newsprint. I had to change the blotting paper three times because it became wavy as it absorbed the moisture from the prints, however these were smaller waves rather than ripples and they improved each time I changed the paper. This has been the best method so-far, but it was unable to save the lightest rice-paper prints.

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