I had an idea for a handmade book, "Ghost", where the images would be blind emossed prints. These would be small prints, facilitated by my pasta machine press. The plates are 800 micron acetate, each plate being a tiny 9 cm square. The printed pages are a whopping 12.5 x 15 cm, and they will be affixed to an accordion book 16.5 cm vertically; the covers are 17 cm square. All these figures are important and should be worked out in advance, when creating a book, so that finally putting it all together goes smoothly.
I had an idea of the images I would use, a hand as a metonym for the whole body. I had not done blind embossing on my pasta press before, so I began by testing some materials. Below is an image cut from oilcloth, using the smooth side up.
I also tried the heaviest grade of sandpaper I could find.
This is the same sandpaper grade as above, but is the environment around the image.
I did some tests on Fabriano paper. The heaviest grade sandpaper was very difficult to work with.
Although I liked the embossed imprint of the heavy grade sandpaper, I had to fight with my press to get the print! When embossing a thin tissue is placed over the plate so that the paper stays clean, yet I was finding that the tissue was becoming embedded in the print, and could not even be removed when dry.
I tried using completely dry paper, and even though I had some good results, I still had to fight with my press to get a print. So I abandoned the idea of using the heaviest sandpaper grade for my plates.
I also started using oilcloth in lieu of felts with my prints, as it is thin, yet has more weight to it than the thin felt I was using.
Here is a another sample of a plate with heavy grade sandpaper. Though not as heavy as the black sandpaper, there were still some difficulties with the prints.
I had decided I would probably use two hands in each image, the final image (of five) being two hands together emulating a bird in flight. The plate below shows the reverse side of oilcloth, which has a textured pattern.
Still using thin Fabriano for tests, I wanted to see how the oilcloth faired under the press. I was surprised that the pasta machine was sensitive enough to pick up the area where the two hands met. For the oilcloth tests I used two layers of oilcloth in lieu of felts. One must remember to have the smooth side of the oilcloth lying next to the paper, so as not to have any additional unplanned embossing.
My final tests were on the Khadi Indian rag handmade paper. The prints are subtle, but this is in keeping with the point of my book "Ghost".
My final decision was to use the same grade of sandpaper for all five images, representing the environment rather than the hands.
The last step was printing out each plate. The book will be in an edition of ten, so I needed ten prints for each plate. I finished all the printing last week, and now I am working on putting the books together.