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Which Carbon Paper Should I Use?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

When transferring designs to a block, there are several factors to consider: can the design be seen on the block? Will it wash off? Will the design be transferred to the print? In this project, we test two different carbon papers on six different relief blocks. We test them with three types of ink: waterbased, water washable and oil based to see which combinations work the best. 

The two carbon papers we are testing are Blue Carbon Paper and Red Japanese Carbon Paper

Both carbon papers come in packs of ten sheets at roughly A4 size. 

We are testing our carbon papers on several different blocks: (from left to right) Japanese Vinyl, Traditional Grey Hessian Backed Lino, Easy Carve, Japanese Ply, Transparent Relief Printing Block and Softcut

Our first test is to see which carbon papers transfer onto which blocks. 

Both the red and the blue carbon papers transfer well onto the ply and the grey lino. 

 

Only the red carbon paper transfers onto the softcut, transparent block, easy carve and vinyl. The blue does not show on any of these blocks. 



The next test is to see if the marks can be cleaned off. Often, especially when printing in the reduction method or proofing, we want to clean the ink off our blocks without removing our drawing. Other times, we may want to clean the drawing off our block to start again, so it's important to know how our carbon papers will behave when cleaned. 

When cleaned with water on a rag:

Softcut - the red lines smudged

Transparent Block - the red lines cleaned away

Ply - the red lines did not clean off, the blue lines did not clean off 

Easy Carve - the red lines did not clean off

Lino - the red lines did not clean off, the blue lines cleaned away

Vinyl - the red lines did not clean off


When cleaned with oil on a rag:

 Softcut - the red lines cleaned away

Transparent Block - the red lines cleaned away

Ply - the red lines smudged, the blue lines smudged

Easy Carve - the red lines cleaned away

Lino - the red lines did not clean off, the blue lines did not clean off

Vinyl - the red lines cleaned away


When cleaned with Zest It on a rag:

 Softcut - the red lines cleaned away

Transparent Block - the red lines cleaned away

Ply - the red lines smudged, the blue lines smudged

Easy Carve - the red lines cleaned away

Lino - the red lines became paler but did not clean off, the blue lines cleaned away

Vinyl - the red lines cleaned away


It was worth noting that it was difficult to redraw on the block with carbon paper after they had been cleaned with Zest It. 


Next, we want to test if the carbon lines will transfer when printed. We re-drew on all the blocks and printed with Cranfield Waterbased Relief Inks, Caligo Safe Wash Inks and Hawthorn Stay Open Oil Based Inks. 

The results from each ink can be seen in the prints below: 

When printing with Caligo Safe Wash Inks:

 Softcut - no transference 

Transparent Block - transference from red carbon paper (blue carbon paper did not work on block)

Ply - no transference

Easy Carve - no transference

Lino - no transference

Vinyl - no transference


 

When printing with Hawthorn Oil Based Stay Open Inks:

Softcut - no transference

Transparent Block - transference from red carbon paper (blue carbon paper did not work on block)

Ply - no transference 

Easy Carve - no transference

Lino - no transference

Vinyl - a tiny amount of transference from red carbon paper 


 

 

When printing with Cranfield Water Based Inks:

Softcut - transference from red carbon paper (blue carbon paper did not work on the block) 

Transparent Block - transference from red carbon paper (blue carbon paper did not work on the block)

Ply - a tiny amount of transference from red carbon paper, no transference from blue carbon paper

Easy Carve - a tiny amount of transference from red carbon paper

Lino - a little transference from blue carbon paper, no transference from red carbon paper

Vinyl - a tiny amount of transference from red carbon paper (blue carbon paper did not work on the block) 


To conclude, we found that the Blue Carbon Paper only works on the traditional grey lino and ply, not on any of the other blocks. The red carbon paper works on every block. Zest-It cleans off both carbon papers off all of the blocks except red carbon paper on lino and ply and blue carbon paper on ply. There is little transference on any of the prints apart from the red carbon paper on the transparent block. 

The best combination seems to be Red Carbon Paper on grey Lino as there is no transference to prints and the marks are not removed with water or oil and are only made paler with Zest-It

 


 

 

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