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split fountain, double sided

April 5, 2009 at 3:50 am

I know that sounds like a really good ice cream sundae: however I’ll leave it up to Scott and/or Jacob to describe what kinds of flavors & toppings something with that name would have, and instead talk screenprinting tech. Yeah!

This is something I designed and printed very swiftly the week before last: a going-away-party invitation for my friends. The sparkly/shiny blue paper stock that I got from Jim at Black Cat as a cut-off scrap dictated the size of the card, and I quickly decided that to take advantage of the many possibilities of the iridescent light blue, I would print on both sides of the paper.

rainbow roll cards
[The sweet illustrations, by one J. Neumeister, are lifted from a 1960 French-learning phrasebook.]

However, this being a last-minute project with an immediate deadline, I had to print these very quickly: which meant finding a way to not have to do four pulls for each card. Here’s the method I came up with, basically printing the front and back at the same time, onto the two separate pieces of paper that are set up next to each other into a taped-down border (as you can see below).

tape border

I printed half the fronts and backs in the first color, then took the ones I had printed that were already dry, flipped them (carefully making sure they were lined up right), and printed the other half of fronts-and-backs in the first color. After a break, I set up the screen again with the second color: which was a sweet “rainbow roll” / “split fountain” / “bokashi” or whatever technical term you like*: it’s a gradient of different ink colors blending into each other. (In this case, utilized mostly because it would be pretty and make people say, “Ooooh!”). Again, I printed half the fronts and backs in the second color, flipped them, and then printed the other half. Done!

Here’s the whole setup:

rainbow roll setup!

You can see the graded-color ink sitting in the screen at the top, the two lined-up cards that have just been printed, the squeegee with the gradient of ink on it at the bottom, the one-color-printed cards at the left, ready for their second color, and (faintly) the open areas in the lower part of the screen through which I printed the pink first color. And yes, Robin, I’m still using your screen… a year and a half later? The mesh still washes out almost completely clear, and it works great — thank you!


* I don’t like any of them. More specifically, I don’t like “rainbow roll” (it feels like it should only apply to prints about which one could say, “whoa man::: psychedelic!!”) “Split fountain” is a term from offset printing and doesn’t necessarily describe this kind of smooth gradient. “Bokashi” is a term from Japanese woodblock printing and is technically a layer of ink applied to the block in a gradated thickness, not two different colors of ink blending into each other. What I usually do with ‘rainbow rolls’ has a more atmospheric effect, like bokashi, but using a Japanese word feels opaque, jargon-y, and on the uneasy edge of cultural co-option. So… rainbow roll it is, I guess. . . . Psychedelic!


[The slightly sassy tone of this update is brought to you by my feelings of bummed-out-ness this evening… which I am trying to combat by putting pictures of shiny things on the internet.]

4 Comments »

  1. Rainbow Roll sounds like sushi. :)

    Comment by Bronwen — April 5, 2009 @ 1:19 pm
  2. mmm… a delicious kind of sushi, including dried cranberries, red pepper slices, carrots, yellow squash, scallions, spinach, beets, etc… which one would serve at a fancy dinner for nerdy printmakers. excellent!

    [um, I totally can’t think of any blue foods.]

    Comment by jean — April 5, 2009 @ 9:26 pm
  3. Yay!! I cannot believe you’re still using that screen I built! I’m so glad you’re getting good use out of it. Making beautiful pieces, as usual. :)

    Comment by Robin — April 6, 2009 @ 9:32 pm
  4. I’ve only every used a rainbow roll once and I editioned it (because I am insane apparently)and it was such a royal pain that I may never do another again, but the print was cool, although “groovy” and the whole edition sold, every last one. i don’t think I even have an image to prove it existed, but wow what a technical challenge that was making the roll consistent on every print… makes me want to make prints now!!

    Comment by deb — April 7, 2009 @ 9:03 pm

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