Lunar calendar print, part 2: haste makes waste!

After 2 layers of paste, and 3 layers of color, this morning I floated one of my lunar calendar prints in water to dissolve the rice paste. After swishing it a bit, I could see that the top 2 layers of color were washing away, leaving only the first blue that I applied.

soaking paste off soaking paste off

My hunch is that I washed it out too quickly, and since the first blue was applied about 3 days ago, the soy on that layer had sufficient (just barely?) time to cure. Time is a variable for katazome on fabric — you must allow the soymilk to cure/oxidize for several days at the very least, locking the colors into the fibers. I think this must be true for paper as well.

Here’s the difference between the washed print and one still curing in peace and quiet.

Tonight I will add a final “glaze” of soymilk on the remaining prints, adding a bit more Payne’s gray while I’m at it (this color looks like indigo) and then allow the prints to cure for 3 or 4 days before washing them out. I saved my gelatin plate anticipating I might need it again!

Paper, rice paste, gelatin plate … lunar calendar in the making

I’m making a lunar calendar for 2011 — a little late … but wait …. there are still 12 full moons left in 2011!  This idea has been percolating for quite a while. I mocked up my design while I was visiting Maine this past October. My sister had found a great set of old brass stencil letters at a junk shop so we had to play with them! Here’s a peek at the design. I cut the moons from a stencil plastic.



I reduced the design by 50% to make it easier to handle for printing. The final image will be approximately 22″ x 9″. I’m using some Japanese Kozo from Wet Paint Art. I cut the stencil from a tyvek mailing envelope. I didn’t want to use shibugami paper. The tyvek is easy to cut with an Xacto, but not as delicious to work with as shibugami. Tyvek, like shibugami, is nearly waterproof.


Below is the first stage of the calendar after “printing” the rice paste. Keep in mind that the paste masks the color of the paper and will prevent the color from reaching it. I used strips of tape on my carpet table as an alignment guide for the paper, and also taped the top edge of the stencil down to the carpet.



When the paste dries it makes the paper buckle a little, but this is not a problem. I am printing the calendar with a gelatin plate. I’m using my hand as a baren, to smooth the paper onto the plate, ensuring that the paper reaches the ink. The ink in this case is opaque watercolor, which I have thinned with a few drops of soy milk.



Today I printed the 2nd layer of paste, using my small rabbit stencil for this “Year of the Rabbit.”

On Friday I’ll post the final stages and the final print. If all goes well, I’ll give away one print in a drawing and put the rest on my shop.