Frank Santoro Process Post #4
Now that the printing is underway after the most rigorous proofing process I've ever undertaken, it's time to make a book out of each stack of prints. First, each print needs to be trimmed to size, preserving the deckle edge along the bottom. (Can I just say how excited I am that each print has a deckle edge on the bottom? Most inkjet paper has clean edges, and deckle edges can make printing difficult by picking up stray streaks of ink, but it's worth it when you see the final product.)
Also, before anyone jumps down my throat and gets on my case about how giclee is just a fancy word for "Inkjet" and that I shouldn't be acting like these prints are such a big deal... first, you're mean. Second, that's technically true, although most inkjet printers that any normal person can afford require a lot of babysitting, and with each print taking around 10 minutes to produce (depending on the image), printing this book is a significant time investment. Third, there is about as much handwork in each print as you're likely to encounter in a giclee. Here's a quick step-by-step (some of which is documented in previous videos):
- Cut master sheets of Rives BFK into two 13 x 19 sheets.
- Coat each sheet with digital ground and hang-dry.
- Stack dried sheets under weight for 1-2 days.
- Individually flatten each sheet by working out warped/curled areas.
- Send the paper through the printer.
- Cut to size (approximately 11 x 17).
Then, once the prints are ready, they need to be adhered into the book. For the main pages, I'm using a really fancy pastel paper made by a company called ShiZen out of recycled pulp. It has a really soft feel, almost like a worn-out dollar bill, but sturdier and heavier. (Side note: each sheet of this paper also needs to be trimmed to size - there is literally nothing in this book that I will be using straight from the package.) In most books where I'm adhering prints, I would use a double-sided tape that can be verified as chemically stable (like 3M Preservation Tape) or a pressure-sensitive substrate like Gudy O, although neither of those will really work, due to the properties of the ShiZen paper. Most paper is fairly "hard" on the surface, meaning all the fiber is pressed really closely together. This is the opposite - you can tell by very lightly rubbing an eraser on it - you'll get stray fibers on the eraser no matter how lightly you go. On paper with a hard surface, good pressure-sensitive adhesive (that maintains its adhesion over time and doesn't dry out) will work for many years, since it has a strong surface to adhere against. (Professional conservators will dispute this point, and they are right, but for practical purposes, pressure-sensitive adhesives that have passed the photo-activity test will be fine. This is the small press, not the Louvre.) With softer papers, however, the pressure sensitive adhesive wants to pull the looser fibers off of the paper, and when you're dealing with heavy, large-format prints, this is a concern. As a result, I'm using my go-to glue for bookmaking applications, Beva Gel. I have talked about this subject at great length here, which you can read if the above hasn't yet bored you to tears, but suffice it to say that Beva Gel has numerous advantages over PVA, which is the most common adhesive used in bookmaking.
So, the video above shows the process of gluing the prints into the book. Because each signature (folded sheet) needs to be dried under weight, it is necessary to assemble the book signature-by-signature (page 1, page 16, page 2, page 15, etc., instead of pages 1-16 in order). This video only shows the first signature being assembled, so watch it four times to get a sense of what assembling the entire book would look like. You may notice that I'm only gluing the top half of each page - this is on purpose, since having the bottom edges loose just looks and feels better than rigidly adhering every inch of the print to the page. Trust me.
This will be the last process post for a while, since printing and assembling the signatures will take me most of the next month (at least), and I have some work-related travel coming up that will throw me off as well. Thanks if you have been reading so far! After this, it will really get good, since I'll be printing the cover, sewing, binding, and all that good stuff.
Oh, one other thing - you may notice that the workshop looks different. You're right! Justine and I recently swapped our large bedroom and small workshop, so now there's almost twice the space, plus we can both work in the shop at the same time - imagine that, both co-publishers publishing at the same time! Now you're all in big, BIG trouble.