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Dedicated to the Art

and Artists
of Relief Printmaking

15685 SW 116th Avenue
PMB 202
King City, OR 97224-2695

Phone: 503-641-3555

FAX: 503-641-3591

Orders: 800-832-4264


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March, 2005

Dear Friends,

The Artist Profile is a new feature to our newsletter.  We talk with printmakers about their artistic experiences so you can benefit from their answers!
We recently spoke to Elaine Chandler, previous owner of McClain's and cover artist of our new 2005 catalog (see the first print ).  Elaine has been a professional printmaker for 22 years and specializes in Moku Hanga (Japanese woodblock printmaking).


McClain's: What inspires you to make Japanese style prints?  

Elaine Chandler:
Japanese wood block prints have many of the attributes of watercolor paintings. It is the ability to layer colors while maintaining the transparency and luminosity of the color that appeals to me. The requirements for setting up a print studio in this medium are fairly nominal and pretty low tech when compared to other printmaking techniques.  Even the kitchen table will suffice as studio space. I like the entire process from the tactile pleasure of carving the wood to the flexibility of printing by hand. And of course the medium is non-toxic and the cleanup is easy: no acid or solvent fumes to vent.

Early one Morning..., 12 x 15


The Reach

3 x 4


     Nexus II, 5 x 4            

McClain's: How do you achieve such intense color?

Elaine Chandler: Intensity of color is the result of several things.  First of all, I use highly pigmented ink such as Akua-Kolor, or high quality gouache and watercolors.   Second, I may print a single area several times to saturate the color.  Third, without going into the principles of color theory, I take advantage of the juxtaposition of colors to enhance what the eye sees. And, fourth, the intensity and luminosity of color depends a great deal upon the paper one uses.  The long fibers of Japanese Washi are actually dyed, accept multiple printings, and give back color in a manner no other paper seems able achieve. Of the Washi carried by McClain's, my favorites, in order, are Echizen Kozo, Nishinouchi, and Kizuki Hanga.   I especially like the Echizen Kozo for ease of printing: it requires little pressure from the baren and holds up well to handling. I've been able to print a 12" x 24" piece multiple times without difficulty and the printed color turns out lovely.

Click here to continue this interview...



Making a damp Pack

A damp pack is necessary to properly moisten Washi (handmade paper) for printing. Moist paper improves the fibers ability to absorb pigment.


There are many ways to make a damp pack; this is the way that works for us.


Cut a sheet of plastic big enough to wrap around the Washi once plus a little more to tuck in along the sides. Trash bags work great for paper small enough to fit inside. You'll need at least 3-4 sheets of newsprint per one sheet of Washi . Some printmakers use old flattened newspapers instead of newsprint. This is great for recycling but newspaper ink can offset onto your beautiful Washi . The older the newspaper the less likely this will happen.


Now, evenly moisten the newsprint. If using a spray bottle mist every sheet. If using a Mizu Bake, (Japanese water brush) dampen every other sheet. The newsprint should NOT be dripping wet, just moist.


Leave three damps sheets of newsprint on the bottom of the stack. Place one sheet of dry Washi between 2 - 3 moist sheets of newsprint. End with three damp sheets of newsprint on top. Wrap the entire stack of papers in plastic to ensure that the paper stays moist.

Put the stack under flat weights (not too heavy, one or two plywood boards work fine). Allow the paper to sit for 2 to 5 hours. Some sources recommend leaving the paper in the damp pack overnight if there are many sheets. As a general rule of thumb, the paper should feel cool to the touch, not wet.


When you are ready to print, take the damp pack out of the plastic bag and spread a moistened towel on top and underneath to prevent further evaporation.


It must be said that there is no magic formula for determining the correct degree of moisture. This will change according to paper fiber structure, thickness, the strength of the paper's sizing (if present), and the temperature and humidity of the workshop.

WARNING! Soaking handmade papers in a bath or tray instead of a damp pack will over saturate and ruin the paper.

wavy line = newsprint

straight line = print paper



Akua-Kolor Water-Based Ink Sets

If you've never printed with water-based inks before, this is your opportunity to test the best. There is no ink like Akua-Kolor. Developed for monotype printmaking, Akua-Kolor also works straight out of the bottle for Japanese style printmaking.  Or, add Tack Thickener and roll out the ink with a brayer.  This slow drying ink gives the artist a long working time on the plate or block, and an exceptionally rich working consistency.  No chalk, fillers, polymers or resins are added to this heavily pigmented ink.  Prints dry to a velvety matte finish with brilliant, luminous color.  

Akua-Kolor inks are now available in a variety of sets designed to save you money!

Akua-Kolor Trial Set    $28.00

Akua-Kolor Woodblock and Linocut Set   (save $5.10) $48.75

Akua-Kolor Introductory Set

(save $10.25) $113.25

Akua-Kolor Professional Set

(save $30.85) $279.50

Washi (Japanese Handmade Paper)

Nishinouchi is one of our finest papers and is recommended by many of our customers, including Elaine Chandler, this month's featured artist.  Long fibers make it surprisingly strong and able to withstand repeated printings from multiple blocks.  The texture and naturally warm color of the paper adds liveliness to a print while giving back sharp, crisp colors from water-based inks.  It tears easily and is ideal for woodcut, linocut, monotype, and book arts.  At 29.25 x 41.75, it is the largest paper we carry.

1-10 sheets $12.90

11-50 sheets $12.25

50+ sheets $10.95

Nothing compares to seeing and feeling the paper itself.  Our Washi Sample Book allows you to do so before investing in full sheets of paper.  It Includes 3 x 5 sample of every paper we carry as well as a list describing each paper in detail.















McClain's will be taking part in the product fair at Power in Print, the Southern Graphics Council International Conference March 31 - April 2, 2005, at the Capital Hilton in Washington DC.  Redeem this coupon at our table for a special offer.  We hope to see you there!

Because of the SGC conference, McClain's will be closed from March 29 - April 1.

Artists!  On our website, we have compiled an extensive list of printmaking resources, links and opportunities.  Find out about instructors, classes, schools, printmaking organizations, special events, and competitions from all over the world.  Please contact us if you'd like to add a new posting.   Click here to visit our calendar and links page.

Have you noticed anything different about us?  McClain's has a new look!  To start the new year, we treated ourselves a new logo courtesy of Fancypants Design.  To see more of their work, go to .