replies to my request for paper-damping methods keep coming in - this one from handpress printer Norman McKnight at his wonderfully named Philoxenia Press (the word means something like 'love or acceptance or welcome of strangers', the best antidote to its 'opposite', xenophobia - I'm reminded again that in Homeric times Zeus himself was the god of, or protector of, the stranger - Norman's Albion, it should be said, is a bench-top model, an exact copy of Lewis Allen's Albion made by D & J Grieg, Edinburgh, just as mine is, made by Steve Pratt in Utah - anyway, Norman has kindly written this -
I am going to start my own blog to chronicle the work of the Press & hopefully find it a spur to activity as well; I had intended doing a demo of my own method on the blog soon after I begin it (January 3). My method is simple, but of course various papers would require various approaches, mostly the same method however. I am dampening only for use on the Albion, so the maximum sheet is always 11 x 15. I am, so far, only using Rives BFK white which is fairly heavy.
I first dampen a sheet of blotter on both sides, & then dampen each subsequent sheet of paper up to five; then another blotter; then another five until I get thirty, as my editions do not exceed twenty-five. The sheets are then placed in a plastic zip-lock bag & placed in the nipping press between two Lexan sheets 11.5 x 16.5 to keep the sheets flat while gently pressing them while the moisture equalizes. I do this at about 07:3o then later in the evening at about 18:00 I have sheets that are supple to handle but not very damp, certainly with no residual moisture. Any residual moisture, should there be any, means I sprayed too close to the sheet, and I simply wipe the residue off with a piece of Kimwipe (a tissue like a giant Kleenex which is used for wiping offset plates & is usually found in paper supply stores).
The method of dampening is a Dahlia sprayer available from Talas Supply in New York. They cost about 100 dollars US & are well worth the price for the many times I use it & the extremely fine mist it gives. I hold the blotters & sheets by the corner & spray at a distance of at least 12" to 18" to get a fine overall mist on the sheet & avoid droplets which occur when sprayed too close to the sheet. I have excellent results with this, although I have not used other papers, nor have I printed on the verso; but timing would be the main concern, and as I am working on small editions this probably wouldn't be a problem for me, only that the ink must be dry before backing up [or, as I and others do, use slip-sheets for backing up - Alan's note] -
I will be doing another print run on December 31 with our "Albion Club" which includes a printer who will pick up Pratt #18 in Utah sometime in January. I will try to photograph my method when I next dampen sheets. I learned this method from Fred Voltmer of Havilah Press who has a lot of experience with Albions (his own & numerous he has set up or acquired for institutions & individuals) & his own & others' Columbians.