Yet another developmental hurdle

I have teenagers in my home now. But I clearly remember when they were very young, that before they made a developmental leap like learning to crawl or walk, they fell apart. Happy children became irrational, weeping, demanding creatures. Child psychologists would call this disorganization. Perhaps this is what has been happening to me.

My newly expanded drying rack.

In my last post, I unveiled the newly expanded press. I knew that the challenges of working bigger were not over when the Rives BFK (30″ x 44″) I ordered would not fit into my flat files. When I began preparations for this new work, I went to hang the paper up and realized that my 12″ wire shelving racks weren’t wide enough and the paper would buckle.  Panic set in…

A trip to Lowes and an evening with my dear husband yielded a new wider drying rack thanks to 20″ wide shelving. Now I would have somewhere to put the paper while I was printing.

The paper trapeze is created with a dowel, rope and zip ties.

The next problem I encountered was how to control the paper when I placed it over the block. I really need another set of hands, but since I work during school hours, these were hard to come by. And my cats were not supportive.  I worried that I would not be able to handle this large (and expensive) paper. After one small meltdown and some pacing in the studio, I came up with the paper trapeze. (I do not recall if I have seen anything like this on the Internet, so forgive me if you are the original inventor!)

The paper trapeze is my silent studio assistant.
The idea behind the trapeze is that I can hang the paper over it while I pop on the registration tabs. The Rives paper is stiff enough that it does not make a crease.
I use four registration tabs on a 30″ side.
With the trapeze I can use both hands to snap in the registration tabs. With my left hand, I carefully begin smoothing the paper down on the block, while holding the remaining paper in my right hand. I try to smooth in the very same spot each time.
After my first printing session today, it is clear that I need to start a stretching and strengthening regimen immediately.  Lifting the 25″ x 40″ block straight up and then on and off the press is going to take some practice.  I must stretch in new ways to get the paper on and off the block, and then hang it on the rack.  10 prints and 4 proofs later I am a puddle of exhaustion. But then I remember why I am doing this — I wanted to create prints that are large enough to get lost in, the way you get lost in Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.
Well, maybe not that big, but you get the idea. Hopefully with a little more practice, this developmental hurdle will be behind me.