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Re: [BKARTS] Simple hecto, fyi?

What is the gel that is used in the pan?

You can use straight Knox gelatin - mixed about 1.5 to 2 times the gelatin to water ratio on the instructions. It should be fairly firm, like for Knox Blox (probably a generationally and geographically specific treat...jello squares with extra gelatin in them so you can pick them up to eat, but they're still a bit wiggly...).

Shallow pans work best - I've used those little AOL tins that they used to mail out their CDs in years ago as well as shallow sheet pans or organizing tubs. You can make a cute business card printer from an Altoid tin. (although you have to remove the gelatin when you're done or it becomes a bacteria farm). Some old style "office machine" hectographs just had a thin fabric that was impregnated with the gelatin.

I never put the glycerine or other additives into the mix. I think they are mainly for letting you re-use the bed - the ink eerily migrates to the edges of the pan overnight so you can print again on the same surface in the old commercial ones.

The gelatin bed is very sensitive to heat and humidity. Dry and cool is best (otherwise pieces of gelatin like to get stuck to the paper you're printing on, taking part of the design with it.)

Interested to try the vis-a-vis markers, first because the purple of ditto masters (analine dye) that are usually used for this process gets monotonous, but also because one of the touchy steps in the old-style process is getting just the right amount of light moisture on the bed before transfering the master - these markers obviously work without wetting the bed.

The down sides look to be that the color is not very saturated, the print requires more time on the printing bed (2-5 minutes vs 10 seconds for the ditto masters) and you get far fewer prints ("hecto" = 100...). They used to make different colored carbon paper for doing multi-color work, but none of the colors was as dynamic as the purple. Most of the time I've found you can get 50 or 60 when the image has been transfered with a ditto master before it peters out.

The traditional hectograph prints are moderately fade resistant...I have a couple tacked to my wall that have had daily daylight (not direct sunlight) that are still in reasonable shape. Curious to the fugitive nature of the pen ink.

It might be interesting to combine the soft ground technique from Mary's website with the ditto master and/or pen transfer. hmmmmmm.

all the best,

Roberta Lavadour - Pendleton, OR
Mission Creek Press - Desultory Press

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