How to work with Tosa Washi sans illustrations

Finally there is a sign of progress in regards to printing on Tosa Washi. I completely revamped my approach to making negatives by designing a QTR printer profile. Despite the recent push to use matte black ink for inkjet negatives, I have stuck with the glossy black strictly because of the expense of swapping out black ink on the Epson 4800. It seems to block plenty of UV. The dried down prints show no sign of a change in Dmax in the ground which can accompany the dark ground where the edge of the transparency lies.

Here’s a brief workflow for handling the paper, without illustrations. At some point I will include an entry with pictures but I am short on time which will make sense in a couple of days.

Coating 30 gsm Tosa Washi

1. I use a 3 inch wide synthetic bristle brush, which gets primed with distilled water prior to coating. I run the brush against the sides of the distilled water dish to discharge as much of the distilled water as possible.

2. The paper is placed on a piece of felt. I am using an 11 x 14 inch size piece for paper that is about 9″ x 12″. I use two strips of poplar weighted down with a stainless steel straight edge and a large wrench. These go to the left and right edges of the paper to keep it from moving during coating. I coat on the smooth side of the paper.

3. I brush initially in one direction from left to right, dipping the brush into the palladium / ferric oxalate mix for each pass. After creating four rows, I build up emulsion on the right side by starting at the bottom and brushing in one direction upwards. The action of the brushing goes from fast to slow. Fast at the start of a row or column and slower as you get to the other side. I use about 80 drop total for the 9″ x 12″ size paper.

4. I hang the paper on a clothesline, allowing it to air dry for thirty minutes.

Print Frame and exposure.

5. I lay a sheet of card stock weight paper on the felt of spring back of the print frame.

6. Next comes the coated sheet emulsion up.

7. I use a sheet of clear mylar  as a barrier between the negative and the coated paper. The paper has a lot of emulsion on it.

8. The negative is placed upon the mylar and the split back is assemble together.


9. Exposures have been running around 60 minutes to 90 minutes in a BL fluorescent exposure unit. I do use a Stouffer’s step tablet and expose to just barely make out the distinction between step 7 and 8.

10. It is very hard to gauge exposure so I recommend smaller coated pieces of paper as test strips.

Development and clearing:

11. I use a piece of Plexiglass that is slightly smaller than the tray but larger than the print to transport it between trays.

12. Always, always, always have chemistry in the tray before placing the print into the tray. The only modification to this is developer. I place the print into a tray with the Plexiglass with 80 percent of the developer. Once the paper has absorbed the developer from the reverse side, I pour the remaining developer onto the surface.

13. The paper is strong but prone to damage towards the end of clearing. I place the plexi and print into a slightly tilted tray with running water. The water strikes the tray in the upper left corner and monitor the print for five minutes taking care that the print does not roll up on itself or travel underneath the running water.

14. The washed print is transported on the plexiglass to a table. I place a piece of blotter paper on top and lightly brayer the blotter paper. I then peel off the print from the Plexiglass and transfer it to a clean drying screen.

The prints have a bit of texture from the drying process and will need to be smoothed out with a clothes iron or dry mount press. Experiment with overexposed / underexposed prints.





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