Here it is! My new press. Thanks to Charles Morgan posting the instructions here. The task seemed daunting at first, but once I got used to the idea that dealing with lumber is not like putting together Ikea furniture, it was not that hard. The trouble with lumber is that sizes vary ever so slightly. Here's a picture of my press upside down, when I was putting the base together.
See that little gap. Even though all of the vertical boards were all 4 inches, the middle acted as a teeter totter. I figured an unstable base would be a very bad thing. The hydraulic car jack (only $38.00) can move 8 tons which will put a lot of strain on the structure. The secret to building with lumber, I have found, is sanding.
If it doesn't fit, you make it fit! You can get sanders quite cheaply now and I wouldn't have wanted to be without it. My husband, who kindly did some of the sawing for me, said I couldn't sand oak because it would be too hard. Haha, Yes I could, but I wouln't want to do it by hand.
So now I have my press. It ended up costing me around $225.00 You could definitely make it for less if you had some lumber or used a discarded countertop. I bought cheap kitchen cabinet doors for the base and the platen. The melamine finish makes the press easy to clean.
Here's one of my first test prints. I wanted to see if there was enough pressure to embosse a leaf skeleton. First I rubbed the skeleton with a watercolor crayon, then I put it on a piece of acrylic that I had painted with dish soap and watercolor paint. I used damp paper.
It worked! You can't see the embossing in this picture but it is embossed and the watercolor transfered nicely without being grainy. The press groans and creaks and at first I was a little afraid it would explode under the pressure. I'm getting used to it now and I don't see any signs of cracking or stress. I think it just likes to complain! The beauty of this press is that if any parts give way, they'll be easy and inexpensive to replace.
I look forward to doing some more printmaking soon!
© Laurel Martin 2010