These are my ruminations on life, design, and the pursuit of happiness…

Paper Marbling

The Color Wheel Challenge has been extended, so here is a little paper marbling to stay in the color theme.

My friend Karen from the International Printing Museum is learning to do paper marbling, and let me come watch (and try out) the process.

You start with a shallow tray, that you fill with carageenan, a seaweed extract that is somewhat gelatinous.

Then using a whisk, you spatter the marbling paint onto the carageenan sizing. She was taught to start with black, and then red, and then move on to whatever other colors you want to add.

When the color is layered in the pan, a bamboo stick is pulled back and forth across the pan. This creates a git-gel pattern. Then you can pull a needle rake through the surface. The needles in the rake are about 1/4 inch apart.

After this a nail rake can be used to swirl the paint into other patterns. (This is the nail rake in an earlier blue marble)

When the surface is as you wish, a paper that is treated with alum (to bind the paint to the paper) is carefully laid down in the pan, and then pulled up and rinsed under water.

Hopefully you then have something beautiful like this:

On my first attempt, I was feeling pretty good about my lay down of color, and did a good job with the rakes.
(Karen said it was “Beginners Luck”)

Then I laid down the paper and went to rinse it at the sink, and this happened.

My alum treated paper was upside down, so all the ink washed down the drain. So much for luck.

Even though my first attempt was a fail, it was great fun, and mesmerizing just to watch. I can’t wait to try it again!

Have any of you tried this? How did your first experience go?

How Type is Cast

We stopped by the International Printing Museum this weekend, for my daughter to do some Gutenberg research for a history report. While we were there, Museum Director Mark Barbour demonstrated the historical process for casting type.

First a punch is created out of steel using files, gravers, and counter punches. After the shape of the punch is satisfactory, it gets hardened and tempered over fire.

Then a matrix is made by striking the punch into a softer metal (Typically Copper).

A hand mold is used for casting, which consists of 2 parts.

When fitted together, there is a cavity

to hold the matrix.

The mold is filled from the top side with hot type metal. This is an alloy of Lead, Tin, and Antimony, which has a melting point of 550ยบ.

Type metal hardens very quickly. A good caster made about 2 letters a minute.

When the newly cast type is removed from the mold, it has a V shaped shank that needs to be removed. (You can see it here at the back of the casting)

After the shank was removed, the back end was filed smooth.

Gutenberg was not the first to create movable-type, (it was first was created in China around 1040 A.D. during the Song Dynasty by Bi Sheng.) Nor was he the first to cast metal type, (that honor belongs to Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty (around 1230).) However, Gutenberg was the first to create a workable system of moveable type, through precision manufacturing of interchangeable parts.

The type Gutenberg used to print his bible had an overall height variation of only 1/100th of an inch. This amazing feat of manufacturing was 300 years before the start of the Industrial Revolution, and 450 years before the manufacturing of Henry Ford!

Busy week

I guess I’m always busy, but this week I was busy with fun stuff. First another trip to the Printing Museum with my class.
We are thinking of starting a “wall of shame” or maybe just a “binder of shame” for prints such as this:

April02Which doesn’t really look bad until you realize it is supposed to say “Wanted, Reward” which is why I later added the image of Einstein.

Then Friday I got to go with Theo and his 3rd grade class to the Aquarium of the Pacific.
April06We all had a blast, as the Aquarium was closed to the public due to the Long Beach Grand Prix. The kids even got some views of the Grand Prix trials over the fence.

Sunday we had a mini Grand Prix of our own
April09 with Pack 007’s Pinewood Derby.

car1This was the first derby for Theo, and he and Dave had been working on the car for about the last month.

April07We weren’t sure it would go very fast, as last weekend they had a trial run, and the car was getting hung up on the rails. But they brought it home, and Theo cut out the bottom more with the dremel.

April08He wound up winning fastest in his bear division!

April10Not bad for a car we didn’t know would run!

His sister even designed a car (built by dad)
hedgie1(it’s a hedgehog)

Hers we WERE expecting to go fast, as it was scoring under 3 seconds in the trials, but it just didn’t perform on race day. When we got home we realized the axle had been bent, and the wheel was rubbing against the frame.
Sorry Sadie, better luck next time!