Photographic Silk Aquatint — Test 16: Edge Fraying

Researchers: Mady Lacaprucia and McKenzie Stuetzel

Date: 1-9-18   Temperature: 68 F, Not humid

Experiment Goal: How many times can we print a plate before it gets too frayed on the edges? We print both a Shellac-ed plate and a Pledged plate 10 times each to see how the edges hold up and how badly the fraying will show in the prints.


One problem that we have yet to resolve is how to prevent the mesh on the edges of the plate from fraying. After printing, small hairs of the mesh lift up and leave small marks in your print. For this experiment, we printed two plates 10 times each, to see how the edges would hold up after printing multiple times. The same person printed them all, so that the wiping technique is the same throughout.

We used previously made plates for this reprinting experiment. Our plate sealed with Pledge Floor Care Finish was McKenzie’s etching image from Test 15, and we counted the test print from Test 15 as our first print in this experiment for that plate. We also printed a Shellac-ed plate, which was a plate made during Test 14 of the same image, that was of comparable quality to the plate we made in Test 15.

Plate A: Pledge Floor Care Finish, No Extra Coating on Edges. We used Test 15’s plate for this.

Print 1. Clean edges.

Print 1, also print 1 for test 15

Print 2. Small frays at top of plate, but nothing shows up in the print.

Print 3. More small frays at the top of the plate that are noticeable in the print but very minor.

Print 4. More fraying around the sides of the plate. Still not very noticeable in the print, but small fray marks appearing both on the outside and inside edges of the image.

Print 5. Fraying slowly getting worse, and some scattered frays starting to appear on edges of the print.

Print 6. Some frays appearing longer. They are still very light however, and could be removed during editioning process.

Print 6

Print 7. Frays getting larger. Note: We also got a large scratch in this print that is not due to fraying, we believe it came from the plastic card we used to apply ink, or softening of Pledge finish.

Print 8: More scratches to the surface of the plate, and increased fraying. We noticed that some frays disappear or reappear from print to print, depending on how they are laying when the plate is wiped and placed on the press.

Print 9: Similar to 8.

Print 10: Scattered fraying, some of the hairs have gotten quite long.

Print 10

Plate B: Shellac Finish, No Extra Coating on Edges. We used Test 14’s plate for this.

Print 1. Nothing noticeable on the first print.

Print 1, Also print 1 for test 14

Print 2. Very short frays visible on both the inside and outside of the top edge.

Print 3. Small frays scattered on edges; slightly darker border on the top of the print due to some tiny frays laying against the edge of the plate.

Print 4. Frays visible on both inside and outside edges of the print. Some scratch marks from the card have again appeared.

Print 4

Print 5. Scratches still visible, scattered fraying, some hairs starting to get longer.

Print 6. Many frays at the top, more frays on the edges, still growing larger.

Print 7. More frays, scratches still visible but appear to get lighter with each print.

Print 8. Fraying at the top is worsening, and many hairs are getting longer. Scratches still disappearing.

Print 9. Frays are getting quite long.

Print 10. The top of the print is still fraying the most, and some of the hairs are very long at this point. Scratches have lightened considerably, and some have disappeared completely.

Print 10


  • The first few prints have very minimal amounts of fray marks. Using either the Shellac or the Pledge as a sealant, by the 10th print the frays were getting longer, and more continued to pop up. Frays seemed to be slightly worse with the Shellac-ed plate, but otherwise very comparable to the Pledge plate.
  • Fray marks that show up in the print are not very dark, but they are noticeable. They probably can be easily removed from the print later, so long as they landed on the outside edge of the image.
  • Frays appear both inside and outside of the image’s border.
  • Frays move, and are more or less visible from print to print depending on how they lay on top of the plate each time after wiping and how the paper is placed on top of them.
  • Scratches became visible on the plate between 4-7 prints, possibly due to the softening of the surface spray, a hard tarlatan, and/or the plastic card that we used to apply ink.
  • Scratches do tend to get lighter or disappear altogether after repeated printing, possibly due to the softness of the surface.

Our next experiment will be to try to coat the edges to prevent fraying.

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