Friday, 9 December 2011

The registration is dead, long live The Registration

I have just finished the third in my Chough series, in which I experimented a little bit with cutting a sun in the evening sky. I think this is the first time I have actually depicted the sun in a composition by cutting it in to the colour rather than perhaps just smearing a bit of the ink away to suggest a highlight area of the sky.

Really not sure if it worked, For the first colour layer I only printed the sky area itself rather than the entire block as I normally do. With the previous Hodomura paper, especially the later batch with the hairy surface, a rollered out edge of ink as opposed to a cut edge would result in some rather nasty lifting of the papers surface at the boundary where the ink was thinnest. This print I am using the BFK Rives 250 gsm which is a much sturdier surface and so could stand the abuse. Here is the almost finished print, just the black edging and deep shadow to apply next.

I will show the full Chough suite in series in another post, but in this post I wanted to lament the end, probably, of the registration system I have used for the last ten years. The masking tape angles.

They had a lot of advantages, easy to set up if you had to print on the kitchen table and remove at dinner time. Slightly flexible and as a new set where put down for, and to the edges of, each block it didn't matter how irregular the lino block was they would fit perfectly. A simple easy to use system that nonetheless granted me, when I got it right, perfect registration.

Disadvantages included going through a shedload of masking tape, it was a bit of a faff to cut, stretch and stick down the little bits of tape each time, if the studio got a bit too warm they could lift off losing the registration. They could not be removed, once down, until the print was finished, or I could not start a print unless I knew I had the time to complete it without needing the table for something else.

I decided to try my first multiblock/reduction print, and of course couldn't start with a little A4 test but had to go for a large complicated beach scene from Pembrokshire in A2. I toiled to cut out the key block for days and days, offset the image onto a couple more of sheets of lino, was all ready to start cutting the other blocks then had to remove the registration marks for a three day course.

"If only..", I cursed ".. I could lift the reg marks off the table and put them down again unaltered" So I looked again at a method I have seen occasionally and which was used by Anne Mytton a printmaker who came on one of my 1:1 workshops and who lugged huge registration boards for her woodcuts up and down my stairs.

A quick chat with and visit to the proper workshop of a friend of mine Mark; joiner, builder and painter,  and I have my new, and as yet untried, method of registration.

A simple sheet of MDF with another thinner strip the height of the lino, a right angle, to hold the block and wide enough to hold a smaller angle on top to register the paper.

The next print will be done using this new, to me, method and I am intrigued as to how well it may work. I also like the idea that it forces me to trim my blocks square, and that I could work on a number of different prints at the same time. The next print should be the multi/reduction I have had floating around for a while now, but it may yet be something completely different.

Long live The Registration.