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.


  1. I think you'll like it once you work out a system. It's essentially what I've been doing... although your board is much more elegant than mine.

    You might find you want some "shims" or spacers to put between the block and the edges of the registration jig to give you a wider paper margin. I have some photos here that might or might not make sense. I usually use mounted blocks, so my jig is deeper and clunkier than yours.

    The new print looks stunning, as always.

  2. Hi Sherrie

    Mine is only elegant because I had a friend, who is a proper joiner, to make it up for me. Thanks for the advice about shims, although I am hoping to not have to use them. I cut quite a wide gully between the edge of the lino and the edge of the image, which combined with the width of the registration area, should hopefully give me the same paper margin I trim the prints down to at the moment.

    Not sure how it will work with smaller prints though.

    Couldn't follow the link so had a quick trawl through your log and was very interested to read about your Hosho problems. Had a huge and very similar problem with mine which will post on your blog post. Actually 'glad' to hear of someone else having problems, thought I was going mad.