printing tools

My new carbon tissue jig

Lately I've been planning to make some larger carbon printing tissue for prints in the 16x20 range. That means that I had outgrown the surface area of my old jig for pouring out glop. I also wanted to start making thicker tissue again, and pour out glop at a wet height of about 1mm.

My favorite surface for this is glass. It's perfectly flat, cleans up well, is portable, and absorbs the heat of freshly poured glop to allow it to set up quickly. This new glass jig allows me to make tissues up to 24x24 in size.

Instead of going for a magnetic surface that allows me to use magnetic strips to dam the liquid glop, I am using 1/4 inch strips of glass backed with electrical tape. The glass strips are easily arranged to form a dam for sheets of different sizes. The tackiness of the electrical tape and the weight of the strips is enough to keep the strips from moving once they are set down. I had considered rubber strips, but the electrical tape works just fine.

The base surface is a 1/2 inch thick table top I bought in Craigslist for 60.00. The base is heavy but easily portable and can be easily leveled with shims if necessary. This allows me to set up the jig in my kitchen where I like making materials the most. I just set it on my work table and put it away when I am done.

The only limitation of using the glass strips to dam the glop is that they will always be much thicker than the wet height of the tissue. This means that you cannot level the tissue with a metal rod. You have to set your thickness by pouring out the exact volume. However, so far this has worked out well. The glop has to be very hot, but I can effectively spread it out with a comb to get a smooth and level coat.



A perfect 11x14 sheet ready to dry. If you like set your tissue thickness by pouring by volume, this jig works like a charm and cleans up nicely.

A perfect 11x14 sheet ready to dry. If you like set your tissue thickness by pouring by volume, this jig works like a charm and cleans up nicely.

No it's not a bong

It’s a rod heater. For making carbon materials, this has turned out to be one of my most useful tools. When coating paper or making tissue, it’s a pain to have to constantly refresh a tube of hot water to keep the coating rod hot. Often the rod is too cool or the temperature is inconsistent. The hottest water rises leaving the bottom of the rod cooler. All in all it makes for a tedious session

Rod Heater.jpg

It was simple enough to build. The key component is the heating element. It is a simple electric beverage heater you can get at Ace Hardware. The heating element is stuck through a hole in the black rubber end cap that is attached to the end of the wye fitting. Epoxy glue keeps the hole in the end cap water tight. The wye keeps the element out of the way  of the metal rod. The switch obviously turns it on and off.So, for about 20.00 and a couple of trips to the hardware store I was able to make a fully electric rod heater. The only things it lacks is thermostatic control. Maybe I’ll add that feature for v2.

The rest of the pieces are PVC pipe and fittings to suit the dimensions of your coating rod. I’ve found that 2″ pipe is more than adequate, but I like the transition to the larger 4″ at the top as it makes the heater easier to fill and the rod easier to grab. The only other price of interest is the base. That is a PVC toilet flange. The wide base allows it to stand upright wherever I want to use it.

To give the heating element a head start, I fill the tube with hot water from the tap and turn it on. However, it will heat a tube of cold water in about fifteen minutes. I keep a check on the temperature of the water and simply turn it off at the switch when I want it to cool a bit. It can make the rod too hot. When I am coating a sheet of Yupo for tissue, a rod that is too hot can cause the Yupo to buckle a little. One thing to remember is to never turn the heater on and pour water on it. The thermal shock will cause the element to break and you’ll be headed back to the hardware store for another heater.