Mounting your art doesn’t have to mean permanently losing the ability to uncouple your print, window mat, and/or backing board.
With archival-quality mounting strips, no adhesive touches the print itself – meaning when you or your customer wants to swap mats, you’re not out of luck.
Plus, a discussion on some of the common issues that can arise when working with heavy cotton papers. Head height problems, and how to get rid of those pesky fiber particles.
- How archival mounting strips work
- Permanent vs. removable mounting methods
- Removable mounting practices save you money
- An unexpected tool to remove particles and fibers from prints on cotton paper
- The dangers of leaving particles on paper before printing
- Head height issues when printing on thick papers
- Much more!
Listen in to learn about archival mounting strips and printing on heavy cotton papers
Want to dive deeper into the subjects discussed in this episode? Here are the notes Renee provided us on archival mounting strips and working with heavy cotton papers.
Question #1: Archival Mounting Strips
- For conservation-grade mats and mounting and framing supplies, Renee recommends UniversityProducts and Lineco. They are widely available online – from Amazon to Dick Blick to B&H. They may also be found at your local Aaron Brothers art store.
- The mylar strips mentioned in the episode are available for purchase here.
- This linen tape is great for hinging window mats to mounting board using the classic T-Hinge (pictured below). But Renee still prefers the strips for mounting prints, as no adhesive comes into contact with the print.
- For holding prints in place while mounting and matting them, check out the Leather Print and Paper Weight from Frame Destination.
Question #2: Problems with Heavy Cotton Paper
- For more on how to configure your printer settings to use third party papers, you’ll definitely want to take a close look at Renee’s in-depth article on the subject.
- Here is the page from the Canon Pro 100 online manual on printing tips and how to access the printer utility custom settings menu. (Check the ‘prevent paper abrasion’ box for thicker papers to widen the head height/platen gap)
- Renee suggests the unscented Swiffer Duster to remove fibers before printing – a tip she picked up from Jon Cone.
Prefer to read over listen? Want to save this conversation for reference later? We transcribe all of our shows for these reasons! Download this episode’s transcription below:
Or, to view a web version of the transcript:
Hey guys, this is your host Justin. Today we’re going to be talking to professional printmaker Renee Besta about mounting and printing on special paper types.
Hi everyone and welcome to our first episode of 2016! We’re back!
We’ll be doing our best to release weekly episodes of AskBC for you throughout the year featuring your favorite guest experts as well as hopefully introducing you to a few new ones.
Along with new episodes of this podcast, we’re also excited to announce the relaunching of the Breathing Color blog. If you haven’t checked it out yet, the blog is where our industry experts post in-depth written articles on things like printmaking and photography. Last year, a few of our most popular posts included “How to Configure Printer Settings for Third Party Papers,” “Shooting Sharp Images,” and a guide on how to get started making your own prints.
We also put up show notes for every AskBC episode filled with extra links and information.
The blog is really easy to access, just go to breathingcolor.com/blog to check it out. And if you want to be the first to know when we release new content, hit that button on the sidebar that says “Subscribe Now” and you’ll be added to our mailing list and receive our new content the moment it’s published. It’s 2 emails a week and you can unsubscribe at any time.
So, like I said, this is our first episode of 2016, and I’m excited to get back to answering your printmaking questions. In a minute, I’m going to be joined by Renee Besta to talk about a few issues listeners have had with fine art papers and mounting photo papers, but first I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about myself as the host of this show and also AskBC and who Breathing Color is.
So I’ve been with Breathing Color for about three years now. I actually started right when Breathing Color began their move from Gardena, California to where we currently reside, which is in Austin, Texas.
I was the first technical support employee on staff after that move, and since then I’ve built this awesome team of tech support people. These guys are fantastic to work with, we easily have the most knowledgeable technical support staff that I’ve ever worked with in the industry. So, a huge benefit of working with Breathing Color is our support, which is fantastic.
I’ve worked with tens of thousands of people at this point with a huge range of issues in this printmaking space, so it’s cool to start this platform, this AskBC show, where we handle this Q&A and we kind of just have these discussions around the printmaking industry, because it allows me to not only share my knowledge that I’ve gained over the years, and address some of the questions I see day in and day out by people like yourselves, it also allows me to connect with industry experts like Renee who have been in the industry for way longer than I have – you know, ten, fifteen, twenty years.
Just so fantastic to be able to bring that type of experience to the table and share it with people that have similar interests and start up these conversations, which are just so content-rich, and so important, you know. A lot of people run across a lot of the same questions, and to be able to address them in one centralized place like this is – it really is just fantastic.
If you’re not familiar with Breathing Color as a company – maybe you found the podcast on iTunes or from a web search or something, like I said, we’re an Austin-based company, and we have distributors throughout the world internationally and we also sell through B&H and Adorama up in the Northeast Coast.
Breathing Color – we’re a great company. When I started here three years ago I quickly began to realize that our primary focuses are really improving print quality within the industry. Innovating new products that – just better and better, the prints that you can get from these digital inkjet printers, you know, making 10% print quality increases through our custom inkjet coatings – is just so interesting to see how much chemistry and science goes into these things, and how much work we put into innovating these products.
I was really blown away by this when I first started here, it took me a while to wrap my head around just how much technical knowledge goes into developing these coatings and, you know, making these small advancements year after year.
So, really cool to see a company put that kind of effort into things like, you know, print quality and print permanence. Print longevity. Really cool, I kind of had no idea that these kind of things were supposed to be considered when you talk about buying a print. Just such a cool learning experience, and, like I said, so cool to know that companies are out there that really, really care about the products that they’re putting out.
So, just a little bit about us, there.
We do this podcast to help you guys become better printmakers at the end of the day, as well as have some fun troubleshooting the kinds of unique problems you’re bound to run into as an artist, printer, or photographer, whatever you might be into.
Most of these problems aren’t new – you know, they’ve been addressed before, so, like I said, to be able to centralize them in this location and kind of database these problems where you can search and find answers to these problems is such a cool thing.
The same types of problems two of our listeners recently had, actually. So let’s jump into my interview with Renee Besta and see if we can offer some solutions for them.
Justin: Hey Renee, thanks for joining the show today, it’s great to have you back here again in 2016, finally, for our first episode of 2016, actually. How’s it going? How have you been?
Renee: It’s going great, I’m really thrilled to be back. Missed ya!
Justin: Yeah, we missed you too. Been dying to get another episode on the books, so I’m glad we’re finally here today.
So, today we’re going to be helping out a couple of folks who are having trouble with mounting, and another guy who has some issues with some head strikes on a small format Canon printer.
The first question comes from Mary Alice Valvoda from MavZPixPhotoRestoration.com. Mary asks, “What would you recommend as a good way to mount metallic papers? I’ve seen some dry mounted and they look “mottled.” I have tried using only mylar tabs, but then the print does not lie flat. Please help!”
Have you mounted metallic papers in the past? What do you think Mary’s problem is here?
Renee: That’s what I was going to say. I have certainly done that – mounted all kinds of papers. Whether it’s fine art cotton or metallic, and used those mylar tabs, and I’ll talk about that in a little bit.
So, it doesn’t really matr. Let’s just look at some potential reasons for the problems she may be having with the mylar tabs, and I’ll get into what those are.
I use products from Lineco – you may be familiar with those. They make a lot of – it’s a great company for archival supplies, for framing, and mounting and matting. And I’ll get into that in a bit.
But, first of all, in terms of why the prints not lying flat – before I get into the meat of it…you know, the prints have to fully dry before you mount – so that could be causing the print to curl or not lie flat – especially if she’s in a humid environment.
We’ve talked about this before in other podcasts – the need to allow the print to outgas in our prior episode. So I would let the print first of all dry for at least 24 hours before attempting to mount it. I allow 48, and I’m in a dry environment.
And if you’re using roll paper – and she didn’t say whether these are sheets or coming off a roll – you may want to invest in a device such as the D Roller (that we did talk about in prior podcasts).
So if you’re using these mylar strips – and what they basically are…Lineco is this great company in Massachusetts as I mentioned. It has very archival-quality, or, I would say conservation-quality materials, and they have these great, clear polyester strips and they’re basically come in a box – they’re about four inches long, so it’s clear archival polyester, and it’s attached to two-ply conservation board with an adhesive backing, and you can cut them to size as you need.
So basically only the polyester strip – which is see-through – is going to touch the print itself. So that makes it really archival, and holds it in place.
And I’ll discuss advantages and disadvantages of different mounting types in a minute.
So, have you never heard of the mylar strips?
Justin: Yeah, I haven’t actually, no. So it’s actually affixed to a rigid substrate already?
Renee: Yes, it is! The top piece of see-through archival polyester, and half of it is attached to actual conservation board, like mat board. And the bottom of that has adhesive and you peel a sticker away.
So this is just the coolest method ever. I’ve tried everything under the sun for mounting prints and this is just the best thing because nothing touches the print itself, which is the best method to use.
I’ll get into that in a second, but if you’re using those strips, I would say be sure that adhesive portion – you want it to be up against the edge of the print, and then the polyester portion will, you know, cover the edge, or the border.
I’ll send some pictures in the show notes so people will understand if they haven’t seen these.
Justin: Yeah, that would be good.
Renee: But if you have it pressed a little too firmly against all four dimensions of a print, that can cause it to sort of not lie flat and maybe bend a little.
So you want it up against the edge, but you don’t want to be pressing really hard on it. That can cause it to bend upward, and the artwork needs to breathe. So these work great.
And I’ve just had wonderful success with them, but you may also – if you’re using the mylar – not be using enough strips, or strips that are long enough on each side of the print. So I don’t know how she’s cutting them – their boxes I think they have the four inch are the most common. I’m looking at them right now. They’re called “see-through archival mounting strips.”
They come in a box of sixty and they’re four-inches long – you just cut them as you need them. If you’re doing a tiny print, maybe you want to cut one inch. You may want to do two inch strips. It depends on the weight of the paper.
So, I don’t know how many she’s using on each dimension. I usually put two on each dimension for most prints. Depends on the weight and thickness of the paper. But the metallic is, you know, it’s really light weight.
Justin: Yeah, light and pretty thin.
Renee: So that should be pretty simple. And you want to be sure when you’re mounting it – I can’t really tell because she’s saying she’s seen some that are dry mounted. I don’t know if she’s trying to dry mount. Hopefully not, and I’ll get into that in a second. There is a good reason why that’s going to look mottled.
But, when you’re trying to use a window mat, or what they call an over-mat, you want to be sure the print is weighted down with something. And if you go to framer shops, they have weights or particular types of bean bags. Not the standard thing you’re going to find at Toys”R”Us or something.
They’re set specifically to hold a print in place so you can position it, pull down the over-mat, and have it perfectly centered the way that you want it. If you have that to hold it in place so that the print is flat, that’s what I do. Then attach those strips, because otherwise it can be moving around while you’re putting them on another section if that makes sense. I’ll try to send some pictures to explain it.
So examine the print closely before putting those mounting strips in place.
So let’s just talk about the two basic methods of mounting. Or categories.
There’s what’s called permanent, and what’s called removable.
I know this can be controversial – people are going to have opinions on what they think works best. I see a lot of people online still doing either cold mounting or dry mounting – which we used in the dark room days.
But it’s really best for conservation purposes to use a method where the print can be removed later and remounted if necessary. And that’s really what is recommended by, you know, museum staff and art experts. That’s really for best practices.
What you have to remember is that by permanently sticking something to something else, you’re going to ultimately diminish its value. Permanent mounting, such as the dry mounts, cold mounting, anything that uses the adhesive – that’s it. It’s permanent.
That should be reserved, you know, for items with little perspective long-term value.
And I know there’s going to be, again, people that will argue that point. But I don’t recommend dry or cold mounting because it’s best to not place adhesives in contact with the print.
Renee: And then it’s stuck. So, why does that matter?
Well, the option is fantastic to be able to remove a print from the mat.
Let’s just say, you know, I need the mat to mount and frame a different image. First of all, if you get good, conservation-grade mat board, it’s very expensive.
I buy the top of the line, 100% cotton mat board. I get mine from a company called Readymat here in California mainly because it’s one of the few companies that make window mats with pre-cut openings that are absolutely perfect for this 3:2 aspect ratio, which is the standard ratio for a digital SLR.
So in other words, you go to standard art supply stores and you’ve got your 8x10s, your 11×14, etcetera. That doesn’t work. We need 8×12, 12×18, 16×24. Readymat is fantastic – it’s in Northern California. They have sets with the backing board and the pre-cut window mat. They’re pre-hinged.
Pull it out of the package – they sell it in packages. There’s three different grades – they do have an inexpensive grade. They have alpha cellulose, which is pigment and acid-free, and then the all-cotton conservation board.
But these are expensive. The last thing I want to do – I’d rather pull my eyeballs out than have to cut mat.
Justin: [laughs] That seems a little extreme.
Renee: It is a little extreme, but that just shows you much I don’t – and I know there’s people that love doing that, you know. Your other option of course is to buy the big boards and take them to a framing shop and have them cut them down to size and cut window mats for you. That’s a lot cheaper than buying the mat from them.
But the mat is expensive. So let’s just say I’ve got stuff I’ve already got mounted, or maybe mounted and framed.
For instance, I had material left-over when I left my local gallery here in Paso Robles – it’s Studios on the Park. So what am I going to do with what has not sold? Obviously you have inventory left.
Well, somebody orders something else, I can take that mat, open it up and pop that print right out and pop another one in.
So that’s another good reason to use the mylar strips, or these Lineco strips. They’re great.
Or perhaps I edited my image – did something a little different, I want to reprint it. Maybe I want to print it on a different paper. The most important thing that museums and galleries look at is what if somehow, eventually, you’re selling something to a buyer – the mat gets damaged. Anything can happen. The glass breaks on the frame. It damages the mat.
The client maybe, “I don’t like this frame, I want to reframe it.” Maybe they want a colored mat, not an off-white mat.
Your piece is stuck to that board forever. So that’s another thing to consider. So this way you can just pop that print right out. It just slips right out from under the mounting strips – the little flap, it’s like a little flap, just holds it in place.
And then you can take that print, store it safely in an archival box. Slip the new one in. The only thing you have to watch out for is that the print you put back in has the exact same border size. By that I mean the white space around the image.
Pop it right back in, you’re done. I love it.
Justin: So cool.
Renee: So I’ve taken a lot of – I used to have things, like most artists, in bins that were just matted and mounted in a clear bag. Then you have your framed work. So all of the inventory I had in the bins – that’s expensive mat board. And because I use these strips, thank goodness, they just pop right out.
Justin: Yeah that’s awesome. Super cost effective as well.
Renee: So, I mean, the decision really is whether she wants to actually float the print and buy that – there’s three different methods.
There’s a float method – the backing board shows through the window mat, and you can just see the print it kind of looks like it’s floating. That you’ll have to use like a dry or cold mount to do that. Because you’re not, you know, alternatively people use large archival photo corners. Like one on each end. That, to me, is where I start to see the print maybe bending a little, so i don’t really like to use them. I used to buy some from LightImpressions, which is no longer in business, but the strips work great.
The photo corners are quite a bit awkward. So, just depends on what you want to do.
But alternately, the other way you can do it is to leave a nice white border – white space on the paper, around the image. And then make sure the window mat just covers the white space. You can still see, you know, white around the image. You can do it that way. And then the window mat will cover the strips.
Also, Lineco makes a great self-adhesive linen hinging tape. So there’s other ways besides the mylar strips. The self-adhesive hinging tape works fantastic.
You can do the classic T-mount hinge. I’ll just go ahead and provide you some links. It’s very difficult to describe in talking about it. But that’s another way to do it.
Just depends on whether or not you want to show the full…you know, like if you have a fancy paper with the deckled edge, you’re going to want to show the edge. So that’s a whole different technique than using a window mat and having the image covered up to the border or the actual edge of the image.
You know, different tastes. But basically, the removable method is best for conservation purposes, and I know I’ll probably get a lot of flack – “Oh now, I still dry mount.” I mean, framer shops love their dry mounts. It’s great, it makes the print lie perfectly flat if you’ve got a good professional machine. They love it.
But you have adhesives in contact with the print.
So we go through a lot of trouble to have the best printers, inks, profiles, papers – I don’t want any adhesive in contact and then it’s permanently stuck.
Renee: So that’s it. I’ll send you – actually, you can go to Lineco.com – they sell a lot of Lineco products at Aaron Brothers – you probably won’t find them at Michaels. But Amazon has them. Or, you know, the art supplies stores like Dick Blicks and others. They’re not expensive, but I love those strips.
Justin: Yeah they seem pretty cost effective.
Renee: Yeah I hope that’s helpful for her. I think maybe the print is either not dry, or she’s pressing the strips, like I said, to close against the edge of the print – that may cause a little bending.
Or maybe not using enough strips or they’re not in the right position. That’s all I can think of, because I have – and I will take pictures, I’ll go ahead and do that, because I’ve got metal prints – or, prints on metallic paper, that are mounted and matted. I can just flip one open and take a quick shot, and I’ll include it in the shownotes as to what it looks like.
I’ve never had a problem with it.
You know, the metallic papers always pretty thin.
Justin: Right. Yeah, it shouldn’t be very difficult. Hopefully some of those recommendations help her out. I had never even heard of those mylar tabs so that’s a cool thing to be able to recommend to customers, for sure.
Renee: Yeah, I used to use the self adhesive linen tape, and then one somebody told me about these I was like, “Wow! How does that work?” But it really does hold the print in place, and it leaves it with enough room to breathe, you just don’t want to be pushing it.
But the great part is, it’s conservation-board attached to archival polyester, and it’s two-ply in its thickness.
So yeah, highly recommend the removable method.
Justin: Cool, let’s move on to the second question.
This one comes from Bob Belas from Bob Belas Photography. He wrote to us asking, “I have a devil of the time getting perfect prints on heavy cotton fiber rag paper with my Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer. My two problems are: (1) the print head often slightly hits the leading and trailing edge leaving a thin streak of ink. And (2) I like this type of paper, but find it very difficult to remove paper fibers and paper dust from its surface. These, if left, leave tiny white marks where the ink sprayed on the dust which then fell off the prints.”
So let’s start with that second issue, the fibers that are sticking to the surface. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with that?
Renee: Definitely. And I also want to talk about what that will do over time to the printhead and other printer parts. One of the things you should always do is dust the paper before you feed it into the printer.
Renee: Especially the cotton papers. You can either use a very high-quality drafting brush that has very soft bristles – be careful, you don’t want to use hard ones that can scuff the print – but one of the tips I read online that I hadn’t considered – and this came from Jon Cone’s website, he uses a Swiffer Duster. And I thought, “What? A Swiffer Duster?”
And it’s actually great! It isn’t gonna scuff your print, and it, via electrostatic attraction, it removes those cotton fibers. So I went out and said, “Hot dang!” and got some of those and it works wonders.
Justin: That’s pretty cool.
Renee: So that’s great to dust the paper off. It’s really cool, I read his blogs and he’s got great articles on his website. So the Swiffer Duster. Or, I used to use a drafter brush, I found one with the softest bristles I could get, but, you know, if you’re using a glossy paper and then you run more of a risk that you’re going to scuff, you know, the surface of the print.
So the Swiffer, get a Swiffer Duster. I don’t mean to be a commercial here.
Justin: [Laughs] Yeah, are you making money off this?
Renee: Yeah, I’m making money off Swiffer.
And we’ll talk a little bit about what that can do. But that’s what I’d say for that.
So let’s talk about this printer a little bit. This is for people that don’t know – it’s a 13” wide 8-color dye ink printer. Okay?
So one thing I want to start with off the top, for people that are considering buying a printer, is that you have to understand there are many differences between the – what we call “enthusiast-level” photo printer models, and true professional inkjet printers.
Now, the pro lines, we consider those that start at 24” wide and up, there’s actually a vacuum suction mechanism in place, and you can set the paper suction that will hold the paper flat as it’s fed through the printer, and that really helps prevent head strikes.
This is not an option on even 17” models like the venerable Epson 3880 or even the newer SureColor P800, the P600 – you don’t get that. So there is no such function on these smaller-format printers.
This Canon is a sub-$500 printer, so it’s going to have far fewer features and you have to remember with certain printers, you may be limited as to what papers you can print on.
So you really should consider how thick do you want to go? Perhaps that make and model printer can’t accept papers of great thickness.
For instance, you remember last year when you posted an article on the 3880 – I think you did a podcast on that as well, but there was an article on how to feed canvas into the back – the manual-feed mechanism on the 3880 by using a leader strip because it’s not meant for that. It doesn’t take roll paper. The p800, you have the option to add that on. But it’s hard, because it usually gets rejected because of the thickness, so there’s a way to try to trick it, but it wasn’t built for that.
So that’s what I’m saying – think about what you want to print on before buying it.
I mean, the OEM – they make marketing claims to the contrary – it can do everything, you know, slice and dice, make your sandwich, whatever.
So, anyway, I have some questions – I wish Bob had given a little more details. And I’m going to ask some questions here and give some possible answers, but I invite him to leave some comments on Disqus when this is up, and let us know what paper he’s using and address other questions, and I’ll get back and answer him.
So he didn’t tell us, first of all, what paper he’s trying to print on, he just says it’s a heavy cotton paper. I don’t know its weight or thickness. Is it a Canon OEM paper?
If it is a Canon paper, then he’s going to have an ICC profile available and all of the settings in the printer driver would be automatically configured including the media type. And what’s most important that we talk about many times is, on a Canon, what we call the “head height” or the “Platen gap” on the Epson, and that’s the distance between the bottom of the printhead and the surface of the paper.
So if you have an ICC profile and an OEM paper, that’s going to be set automatically for the paper. That distance is critical. Sort of like Goldilocks – you don’t want it to close and not too far away.
So, but if it’s a third party paper, the media type you selected is important, and we’ve gone over this before – both in articles and podcasts – on where to find this information on the Breathing Color website.
What media type is he using?
I have a feeling it’s not a Canon paper. I could be completely off, but just the impression I get since he’s having these strike problems.
So, what we need to know is – did he adjust the head height for that to allow more space between the bottom of the printhead and the surface of the paper for thicker papers to compensate.
You know, head strikes are very dangerous, they can completely ruin your print head or damage it severely.
I did post an article last year on how to configure printer settings for third party papers, which talks about how to set a media type – and then you may have to go in and manually widen the platen gap or head height.
Justin: Yep, that’s pretty common for third party papers.
Renee: Yeah, it’s pretty common. But one thing that may really help him – I wanted to point out – I did download the manual for this printer. Every printer is different of course and has all these strange settings in the driver menu.
Under the maintenance tab in the menu there, for this printer there is a custom settings menu button. It’s kind of hidden at the bottom right.
If you click on that, you get another window and there’s an option that says, “Prevent paper abrasion.”
And so if you actually read through the whole Canon manual, it says, “turn this option on when you use heavy or specialty media.” And it’s recommended to use that feature with any paper over 12mm-thickness.
Well, that would definitely be any heavy cotton paper.
Justin: Yeah and like any photo paper.
Renee: Some of these get up to like – you have Elegance Velvet, that’s a 23mil paper.
Renee: That I would recommend he check the “Prevent paper abrasion” box.
So, question is, I presume he’s using the manual feed tray – not the single sheet tray. There is a rear-feed, but you can stack paper in and then with this printer there’s a manual feed through the rear.
But one thing I do want to say when he’s talking about the problems with the leading and the trailing edge, this is really common and it depends on the border you’ve allowed around the image.
And sometimes people will, let’s just say, you want to make a 12×18” print and you’re using a 13×19” paper. If it’s glossy luster, metallic, pretty easy, because basically it’s a pretty thin paper.
You get a really heavy cotton paper, and what happens is – especially the trailing edge – as the papers fed through the printer, obviously there’s rollers that move it through. When you get to the end, there’s no longer rollers in place to hold the paper down as it’s starting to come out of the printer on the trailing edge, and that’s where you risk the head strike.
But in the Canon manual it does say that if you’re using non-Canon specialty type media or fine art, the printer driver will force a 1.18” margin to the top and bottom of the prints.
The left and the right aren’t so important.
Now that is done to minimize possible head strikes at the beginning and end of the print.
But, here’s the caveat. This is why the question is so important – which paper is he using. If it’s third party.
Again, when third party paper companies like Breathing Color, could be anyone, make a profile for their paper, they will tell you what media type to select.
Of course that option – you have to have an option that’s available in the OEM driver. But, for instance, there is one company whom I will not name, that for their cotton paper, says “Pick the matte photo paper media setting”.
Well, what does that mean? That matte photo paper, if you look at it’s thickness for this company, it’s half as thick as a regular heavy cotton paper, so what you’re doing, in essence, is giving instructions to that Canon printer, “Oh, I’m going to run a 12mil paper.” That’s what to expect.
So it’s setting the head height based on those instructions, but, actually, you’re running something twice as thick. So that’s where you’re getting the head strike.
And again, I don’t want to get into it too much, it’s all in the article that I wrote, but that’s where people run into problems. The reason that this company picks matte photo paper is they can therefor get around this size and margin constraint – and Canon put that margin constraint there for a reason. If you leave, this is why people get these streaks and these problems.
Have you ever had this problem where you’re cursing, the print comes out, it looks perfect, it gets to the very, very, very end and “Boom” you’ve got this issue or streak on it.
Renee: It’s because you’re not – for one thing, there’s not enough white border. If you’re trying to print up to the very, very, very edge, you know, on a cotton paper, that’s problematic.
So this is the issue – here they’re making your ICC profile, and it has to be based on a media type – it’s got to do with the ink throttling and other things, but they’re trying to subvert what Canon put there to begin with.
So again, I don’t know where he’s buying from. He could buy Hahnemuhle, he could be buying Canson or Ilford paper, I have no concept. But it could be trying to subvert, based on the media type, this size and margin constraints.
Justin: Yeah, I’d imagine so. It’s frustrating, those margins are killer.
Renee: Yeah, so I would always leave adequate margins. Because especially the trailing edge, and when he’s talking about the leading edge of the paper.
You should always examine your paper. Not just dust it off, but take a look at it. Over time, depending on your environment, what if you’re in a humid environment, they may already have a curl to them. It’s always recommended to take the leading edge and slightly and carefully bend it upwards in the opposite direction so that when it’s fed in your’e not going to get a paper skew error.
That it’s fed properly or it’s flat. If it’s not flat, get a deroller. There’s a number of things you can do to flatten it. It’s really important it’s flat. It’s important there’s enough border around the edge of the image – that will prevent the head strikes. So be careful with that.
But this Canon user manual states that for that manual feed tray it’ll take up to a 23mil paper. So that’s pretty thick.
So it should be able to take it.
But again, if it’s third party and you’re using a different media setting, it will not configure the head height properly. So that’s important.
What I wanted to mention is what can happen – what we’re wanting to do next is to do a podcast on routine printer maintenance issues. And I kind of thought this was the perfect segue to do that.
What a lot of people don’t know, with head strikes, and with these fibers – they do tend to, they’re going to collect on the bottom of the print head over time and that can cause multiple issues. These fibers can get dislodged from the print head and drag across the surface of the print leaving marks as you see. If they’re not removed in the first place, ink cannot be laid down you’re just going to get a white glob.
Or they get dislodged later, same thing can happen on a subsequent print, and you can either get fully clogged or partially clogged nozzles due to the fibers.
So that can lead to banding, it can also lead to nozzle deflection. There’s a difference between a nozzle that’s completely clogged, and one that can be partially clogged. If you’ve ever seen – if you’ve put your finger over the end of a faucet, how the water can spray straight in your face. It’s kind of like that when you think of the ink spraying if that nozzle is not totally, completely clear, the ink will deflect.
So then your color is going to be off, you can have spraying on the print, all kinds of issues.
But, you know, the head strikes really are dangerous because it can also knock your printhead out of alignment and ruin it. But, there’s other issues people don’t think about.
What happens if you have not increased that gap for a fine art cotton paper. It’s going to do much more than cause streaks. That ink is going to collect on the bottom of the printhead just like the fibers if they haven’t been dusted off, it will eventually dry on the bottom, because it’s too close to the surface, so you’ve got the same subsequent problems.
If you’re using, especially pigment ink, that stuff’s going to dry and they’re like little pieces of sand is the best way I can describe it. So subsequent prints as the printhead moves across those, there may be scratching or scuffing.
That material can fall off, the dried ink, and you just have this residue on there over time. And as they get dislodged, you can just – if you’ve ever noticed on a print all of a sudden you’ve got some blotch of something, like ink “Where’d that come from?” well, that’s dried particles.
Renee: So, you basically, what we will be talking about next with printer maintenance, what people also are probably not aware of unless they’re opening the cover and trying to do some routine maintenance – you can eventually get your capping station contaminated with this material. That is where the printhead is parked on the right side of the printer.
There’s a pad and it keeps the printhead from drying out. There’s usually a suction device under the capping station that will suck any extra ink that’s left after the print is made, but, you know, you want to keep it moist and dry. But, if you have white cotton fibers, or dried ink on the bottom of the printhead, that’s going to end up on that capping station, so the next time the printhead goes it picks some more stuff up and drags it across the next print.
So it gets deposited because it gets dislodged.
And then of course that will affect wiper blades, so that’s something else – cleaning capping stations – we’ll be talking about with the routine printer maintenance. And there are wiper blades. THink of them sort of like on your car, so as the printhead goes back into place to be parked, blades wipe off the bottom, that’s to get rid of excess ink, then it gets parked on the capping station, those blades need to be cleaned too.
But the more you have fibers and the more you have extra ink due to your head height or platen gap not being properly set, it’s too close, those will get contaminated and cause subsequent problems.
And basically, on a final note, I would just recommend that people stay away from printers with dye inks, and quite frankly I’m really surprised – this printer came out in 2012, and I’m really surprised Canon was still releasing printers with dye inks.
Pigment inks are the gold standard if you’re concerned about print permanence and longevity and these values, as to how long a print is going to last, basically, there’s all kinds of claims from manufacturers – I read an article where a company was reviewing this printer, and the product manager from Canon was saying, “Oh, these dyes are special and they’re going to last 300 years!” And I was like, “300 years? Are you kidding me?”
Justin: Yeah, not in the real world.
Renee: I don’t think so in the real world, I don’t know where they came from. But the problem is, once that’s in a review, that becomes part of the common thought and still – no matter what – still, inkjet-based dye inks they do have more longevity than the type of dyes that are used in your chromogenic prints. That’s for reasons I don’t want to get into with dyed couplers and things like that, but nonetheless there’s no comparison to pigment inks.
You know, what do you think?
Justin: I don’t understand their decision on that either, because it’s, you know, the printer’s price range is so low that it makes sense to save a hundred dollars or something just to get those dye based inks, it’s not like you’re saving a bunch of money.
You can upgrade to the Pro-10 or whatever and it’s slightly more expensive and it comes with the pigment inks. Just kind of , it’s strange decision on their part I think.
Renee: It really is, it used to be a course in the early years of inkjet printing – there was a huge difference in the gamut. Dye inks were obviously had a wide gamut and were saturated, it’s not so. I can sit here and show you ICC profiles for pigment versus dye inks, and I guarantee you you’re going to get the best gamut and the best longevity from pigment inks.
And again, this all goes into what I said at the beginning. Research printers carefully. I would recommend a 17” minimum because you’re going to have cheaper costs for ink, be able to take more papers that will have other features – the 13” do not.
That’s just my recommendation.
But, anyway, I invite Bob to answer my questions on Disqus like what paper was this, how thick is it, is it a Canon paper? And address these things.
And I’m wondering, how are his nozzle checks coming out, and is the color good on the print?
Justin: Yeah, it’s always interesting to get people’s feedback on the show notes page on the comments.
Renee: Yeah, but it’s a perfect set of questions to talk about printer maintenance because head strikes are definitely not something you want to have.
Justin: Yeah, obviously a lot to cover ont hat podcast. I’m excited to do that on this next episode.
Awesome, well that wraps up the questions we have for today, actually, so I just wanted to thank you again for stopping by, we always appreciate you taking the time.
Renee: Thanks for having me back. Happy New Year, even though it’s February, Happy New Year.
Justin: That’s how it works sometimes, it takes a while. But we’re back now so hopefully it’ll be a regular thing now. Thank you so much and we’ll talk to you soon.
Renee: Alright thanks Justin!
That’s our show for today. I hope you enjoyed my discussion with Renee Besta. You can find out more about her and check out her awesome photography by visiting renmarphoto.com.
Next time on the show, Renee will be back to offer some tips on ongoing printer maintenance that will help keep your printer running, so look out for that show by joining our mailing list or subscribing to AskBC on iTunes.
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