This explains which combination of printing matt, blankets and runners that we recommend to use for printing different plates on our etching printing presses. The printing blankets are almost as important as the press you purchase and using different printing blankets on any press will give you huge variations in prints.
All of our printing blankets can be cut to any size for you and used with any presses. We also sell them individually or as sets of 2 or 3 blankets, so you can mix and match according to your printing requirements.
While this guide explains the way we use our own presses, all printmakers will want to develop their own ways of working as all plates are made in different ways, and they are going to be inked up using different inks as well as paper and techniques of wiping or rolling. If you need any help just call or drop us an email.
The 100% woven wool blankets will last you a lot longer than the unwoven compresses felt, which reflects in the price. PVC Printing Matt. that we provide free with the press gives exceptional results but will only last you a couple of years where as the The 100% woven wool blankets will last you a life time if looked after. Please note the woven wool blankets needs wearing in to get the best out of them.
Below is a description of each blanket.
In order to achieve best performance, both felt and wool blankets should be run in, by putting them individually through the press in order to compress them prior to use.
Sometimes 3 or more blankets have been used dependant on the type of plate being printed), more commonly now it is thought that 2 is the magic number.
There are many terms that are used when describing the printing blankets and their uses, which hints that this is a most fluid arrangement and different printmakers have used their printing blankets in different ways and have then passed that information down to the next generation.
One of the most common names used is ‘Swanskin’ and describes the material that was used historically ie: an actual Swan skin according to some sources with the feathers still attached and was often used for book printing on Columbia presses and the like. To that end we will generically term the woven variant as ‘Swanskin’ and utilise three common terms that are used to describe the purpose of the printing blankets.
This is the blanket that goes next to the paper, it has the tightest weave so that there is no weave transferred the paper, so you get a smooth print. This blanket also catches the size (glue) from the paper, so this is the blanket that can get wet during large print runs, so make sure this is removed at the end of printing and hung to dry ready for the next session of printing. Over time the size can cause this blanket to stiffen and therefore should be replaced or carefully cleaned with specific wool detergent and dried fully before reuse. When you purchase this blanket new, like all pressed or woven wool blankets, they will need running in before you get the best out of them. Put your press on a high pressure and run the blanket through many times.
This middle Blanket does exactly as the name describes, cushioning your plate, but still allows a lot of pressure to be put onto your paper and plate. It helps plates last longer, protecting the aquatint (tone) and burr (line). It has a wide weave so if you print with it on its own you will get the weave come through to the print. If you are using two blankets this and the thinner blanket make a brilliant pair.
This is the blanket that traditionally would go next to the roller. It is a hard-wearing blanket due to its thickness and weave and the most expensive. This blanket is great to use for printing thick collagraph plates but is not essential as you can use thicknesses of newsprint to compensate for thicker plates if you need to.
The unwoven blankets can be used in the same way as the woven blankets, but as a cheaper alternative to the premium ‘Swanskin’ blankets are unlikely to perform to the same standard, and in some cases, we recommend you to only use two of these blankets rather than the set of three. For example, using the two thinner unwoven blankets to print an etching will give you 80% better results than if you used a set of 3 unwoven blankets.
Like all our blankets are available individually or as a set of 2 or 3.
Our unwoven Fronting/Size Catcher blanket is 2mm thick pressed wool felt.
Our unwoven Cushion blanket is 3mm thick pressed wool felt.
Our unwoven Pusher blanket is 6mm thick pressed wool felt.
When you purchase one of our printing presses from us you get a free printing matt with your press. This printing matt will print all work to an excellent standard on its own but will only last a couple of years. We purchase this blanket in large quantity rolls so if you need a replacement these are on our website and if you need offcuts we sell these as well. Rolled up they made excellent inking dabbers!
- Wipe clean surface on top and on the bottom is a cushioning layer
- For use with any press
- Excellent quality prints from etchings through to woodblocks
- PVC with extra thick soft felt backing
- Extra cushioning layer between your bed and top Roller.
- Can be rolled up for easy storage when not in use
Read our blanket guide here where is can advise you on the best blanket or blanket combinations for your practise.