Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review on Paper and Engraving Blocks

We had a chance to sample some papers sent from and blocks  provided to us by Jim Reynolds. Please see a more in depth review on those supplies in the next post coming up. :)

Here are my three favorite papers that are most suitable for printing engravings/relief:

Savoy - The Top Choice

"Made from 100% pure cotton, SAVOY blends old world elegance with new world sophistication making it the perfect choice for a wide range of projects from greeting cards and invitations to hang tags and luxury packaging. Though originally designed for letterpress, SAVOY also offset and digitally prints beautifully."

These are the color options they sent me.
You can see the texture here. There is some, but pretty smooth. 

Its strong formulation, yet soft flexibility allow for strikingly clean and crisp folding, blind embossing, foil stamping and engraving. These papers were hands down my favorite to print on, largely because out of the stack we received, these are the most archival ones. They feel velvety in hand and the subtle texture picks the ink up nicely without having to dampen the paper. This definitely will be something I'll keep in mind, when buying paper next time. 

Arturo - Second Runner Up

"Created in Italy by Cartiere Magnani exclusively for Legion Paper, Arturo has a luxurious, soft, suble texture created with Magnani's exclusive "Corona" felt. These fine papers are ideal for invitations, announcements or just for people who love written correspondence."

This mouldmade paper, as you can see in the image below, has more texture to it. It still took the image fairly well, but there was more fussing around with pressure. Maybe with wetting, I could have gotten a good impression, without having to put as much pressure, but I prefer to print my relief prints on dry paper.  to prevent buckling when drying. The biggest reason this didn't make top was it is made of 100% high-alpha cellulose instead of rag (cotton). I prefer cotton over wood pulp. But for making lasting prints, Arturo has a neutral pH and is acid and Chlorine free. 

Remake - Fun paper for cards and other seasonal things.

This is a interesting paper line, that includes fibers obtained from leather-making processes. "Eco friendly with the up-cycle heart of using existing fibers from other manufacturing segments, Remake is produced with 25% by-product from the leather goods industry, along with 30% post consumer fibers and 45% FSC certified virgin pulp. Made with 100% green energy."

This paper was fun to look at. It is soft, velvety and has little speckles that give it some depth. The surface is nice and smooth, and it takes ink wonderfully. Really a joy to print on. Because it is made from leather byproducts etc. it is not archival, and I would't use it to print my editions on, but it would be fun for cards, or other more ephemeral things. 

These are some of the colors we got. Love the teal!
A closer up shot to see the speckles. 
I wanted to proof a small block on the papers. I Printed on the various Savoy papers and Arturo, and my setup consisted of a proofing press, and I used 3 sheets of paper over the printing paper for added pressure and give.

In the closeup below picture, the left side is Savoy 118lb paper and on the right is Savoy 92lb paper. The bottom left cat was printed with the same pressure as the 92lb paper, and the image is a little too dark. some of the details have been inked over, so I took out one thin sheets of paper that were buffering, and the resulting pressure gave me the image above it, which is a nice impression (looks a little blown out because of side lighting). 

These were 184lb and gray 236DT cover card stock on the left and on the right a sheet of arturo. You can see on the arturo, the pressure was too light first and you see a lot of the texture of the paper. I adjusted pressure w an extra sheet of paper on the top and it printed great the next time (pic above).

Engraving Blocks Review

Maple block from Reynolds
Jim Reynolds also sent us some sample blocks to try.
I found out about him about a year ago, and have ordered from him a couple times since. He makes both maple end grain blocks and solid surface blocks, which I find both nice to use. 

The solid surface blocks ($0.55 per square inch) are some sort of countertop material as far as I assume. They are white and the solid block is glued to a piece of plywood to make it type high. The material is hard and does not chip like Resingrave does. I really like using it, and can get nice details that hold up while printing. It is easy to see where you are carving, because the material is white. Max size for no seam blocks is 10x14". 

The maple blocks ($0.75 per square inch) have been glued together from smaller pieces. You can purchase block as large as 5x7". I've done several engravings on these blocks too and approve as well. They are obviously rougher to carve than a boxwood block, but for the price and convenience they are hard to beat. Between maple, solid surface and Resingrave, I'd pick solid surface first, then maple and Resingrave last. The top two are both nice in their respective ways. Carving on wood is always nice, because its a warm material and softer. The solid surface blocks work best for me, because I don't have to worry about indentations behind my engravers, because the material is so hard. I don't have to fuss with carving, and can just go at it as I please, which is a big bonus compared to wood. I also like the detail I can get on it, and the ease of seeing my carving as I go. 

All order over $75 ship free in the continental US and all orders under will have 15% shipping charge. All blocks are made to order and take 2-3 weeks to manufacture and deliver. To contact Jim, email him at jmreynolds (at) or call 414-771-1377. Or if you're in Milwaukee, WI, you could probably pick up your order yourself. 

This block is one of Jim's maple blocks. 
print from the maple block
There is another material that I tried at our recent Wood Engravers Network workshop. That's HIPS, High Impact Poly Styrene. Joanne Price uses it a lot, and the pros for that material are that it is super cheap to get and you can get it in fairly thin plates, so they are light, and easily transportable. I find them a little hard to carve, and pretty soft. There was definitely a learning curve, but I want to give it another go at some point.

Solid surface block with a beginning engraving on it. 
Finished engraving with the finest detail I've done as of yet.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions on the papers or the blocks please shoot me an email or leave a comment below.