Sorry for the delay in updating. Work keeps me busy and editing photos and writing a blog are not on my list of "fun" or "relaxing" activities.
In this post I will go through how I transfer images onto my matrices so that I don't have to redraw what I've already drawn on the computer and also how I set up my registration keys so that when I print multiple colors they will all (hopefully) line up properly.
For this edition I wanted to try carving on a material called Sintra, which is a dense PVC foam board. I discovered this material while working at a sign shop and assume that it can be bought at most other sign shops. It comes in many colors, but since I will be transferring a dark image, I bought a light color (cream). After trimming the Sintra down to the image size, I cleaned it with a rag and some Simple Green.
As for the transfer sheets, I converted each color layer to a black and white file. Then, I went to Kinkos and had them printed. It is important that the images are printed from a laser jet or xerox machine. The toner on the paper is what transfers to the block. Below is the transfer sheet for the yellow block. Regular printing paper is fine. No need for fancy paper stock.
To transfer the image to the block I used gloves, tape, a rag, and Acetone.
I taped the transfer sheet face-down to my clean Sintra, being careful to line up the corners.
Dampening the rag with acetone, I begin rubbing the back of the transfer sheet. This can be tricky. Too much acetone will ruin your image and too little acetone will also ruin your image. With these blocks I started rubbing from the middle working out. I think in the future I will start from one end and work towards the other.
Here is the finished transfer. I am not sure why it came out so spotty. In the past, my transfers have come out clean and consistent. Perhaps it was the Sintra, perhaps something else? As ugly as it looks, closeup, I can still see all the details to carve by.
Ok. After transferring all my images, I mounted each of them on a Masonite board. I did this for two reasons. One, Sintra can break and warp. Two, I glue my registration keys on them. To place the Sintra, I measure out my margins at the top and one side of the Masonite then add .5'' to each. I use contact cement to glue the Sintra down.
The .5'' are added because I cut rectangular pieces of linoleum floor tile that are .5'' wide by 1.5'' long. I just happen to have the floor tile. If I did not have that, scrap Sintra would do.
I then arrange and glue two pieces in the corner so that they make a right angle. This raised area will allow me to place the corner of my printing paper in the same place every time I print. I've seen some people carve their registration marks into their board (like Japanese printers), but I prefer this raised method.
Here are all three blocks ready to be carved. The top one has a shorter piece of Masonite, but it should not interfere with printing:
I am hoping by the time I am ready to do another relief print, my local print shop will have a printer that can reliably print on Sintra. This would save a good deal of time and create a cleaner image to carve by.