New Photo Printer

So I finally broke down and replaced the (broken) 8.5″ Epson R800 (which doesn’t do B&W at all well) with something a bit better—an Epson 3880, which prints up to 17″ wide and does gorgeous B&W (they both do quite good color).

Epson 3880 printer waiting

Epson 3880 printer waiting

There is, however, one other slight problem—where to put it. I’ve let the office get a little, um, cluttered, and this printer is a lot more than twice the size of the last one so I can’t just replace it in place.

ddb 20140725 020-002

Definitely a bit cluttered

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That’s the Epson 1160 set up for quadtone B&W, not the R800

Dealing with this of course takes space to sort through things (plus frequent emptying of the trash and recycling). It’s going to take long enough that the normal workspace (the bed) isn’t a viable choice, though.  So…new shelves! The theory is that the bottom two shelves will hold the stuff sitting on the floor where the shelves will go, leaving three more shelves per unit for other stuff.
First unit

First unit

First unit in use, second half assembled

First unit in use, second half assembled

Two shelf units!

Two shelf units!

And significant progress has been made.  I need to settle some power and data connectivity issues, and carry that big box down into the basement, which may be a bit interesting.  But I should be printing tomorrow.

Over half the desk cleared

Over half the desk cleared

The stuff on the shelves can now be sorted in smaller groups, and the stuff behind the shelves integrated, and stuff on the computer shelf.  And eventually a lot of the stuff on the other shelves where the second closet is supposed to be can be moved and sorted, and the closet built, and some of the stuff moved into it.  And, in the end, these new shelves removed again to open up that floor space.  But they give me space to do the sorting needed now, which is a big win.

All better now, but last week I finally dealt with the persistent DSL problems (requiring CenturyLink to both replace the wire from the house to the pole, and also fix a corroded connection in a box a block and a half from here), start dealing with the Airave nano-cell dying, and replace the UPS that was supposed to keep the household network and phone system going through a power failure.

Still waiting for the second replacement Airave; the first claimed to come up okay, but wouldn’t connect to my phone.

Along the way I also dealt, finally, with the DSL noise on the second household line (I had to completely rewire the input side of the wiring panel for the phone lines to make that possible, is why it took so long to get to).

So, here’s the new panel, not that different from the old panel.

The revised wiring panel

The revised wiring panel

Music Party

Ann Totusek and Kelly James held a music party the other night, to commemorate Nate’s divorce.

click through to gallery

Back then, we posted pictures of department heads and trouble-shooters and such on the bridge to help familiarize volunteers with the people with authority in various areas.  We found these going through the Minicon archives last weekend.  There are some more, not Polaroids, that I haven’t scanned yet because I haven’t figured out how to clean them (there’s gunk on the front).  (click photo for gallery)

DDB – Exec

Signing Photo Prints

Testing Print Signing

Testing Print Signing

People following my blog can probably guess why I’m concerned with this just at the moment.

Where and Why

The formal purpose of the artist’s signature is to certify that particular print as meeting their  artistic and technical standards.

My research strongly suggests that there is no consensus on what is expected by art buyers, collectors, or museum curators.  They do all seem to like consistency, so you should decide early on what you’re going to do, and do that from then on. Or at least make rare changes, and make the changes cleanly and ideally document somewhere people can find that you have done so.

So far as I can tell, people do anything from nothing at all to using a stamp or “chop” on the back to signing the front (“recto”) or back (“verso”). They write anything from their initials to a regular signature, or print their name, or anything else. They often include a date or two (for photography, date of image and date of print are the two most often used). They sometimes include the title of the print. They use anything from metallic-ink sharpies to pencils. They write on the back, or in the margin on the front, or within the actual image.

The full form I like is to put the image title and year photographed in the bottom margin at the left, and the signature and year printed at the right. I will leave enough space so it can be either included in the mat opening, or matted out, at the owner’s choice.

However, when signing a batch of prints all at once, that’s too much to write (it is; I’m not lazy, I just have lousy handwriting, and if I tried to do that much on each of a pile of prints, it’d end up illegible on most of them). If I were clever and thought ahead more, I might print the image title and year photographed as part of the image (an image of my careful printing; I can do it once legibly if I get enough chances), and only do the actual signature and year printed by hand.


Specifically, with what?  What writing instrument?

The requirements as I see them are:

  • Harmless (will not damage the image, either physically or chemically)
  • Permanent (will not fade, hard to remove, resistant to water and other hazards)
  • Suitable width (artist preference)
  • Suitable color / density (artist preference)
  • Hard to smear
  • Writes smoothly and without skipping on the particular paper

Those first two are sometimes lumped into “archival”. Given the complexity of the inkset-plus-paper chemistry encountered in modern digital inkjet prints, adding a third thing, the ink from the signing pen, to the equation is at best a wild gamble. Ink plus paper combinations get tested by various firms, but I’ve never heard of any of them adding signing pens into the mix.

Given this total lack of real information, I’m making a wild leap of faith: I’m accepting all writing implements that make claims of being permanent and (critically) neutral Ph (or acid-free). And I’m taking their word for it; I have no way to verify it much.  Amateur testing is interesting as far as it goes, but accelerated testing is a black art, amateurs aren’t very good at it. And for art prints, I’m thinking in terms of the print lasting for centuries, not just years.

The totally conservative approach is to stick to pencil (graphite, not very reactive) or India ink (basically a carbon suspension in water, not very reactive).  I find that too limiting, especially since pencil doesn’t write on the front of this paper.

I tried a bunch of pens I liked writing with and had sitting around on this paper. Surprisingly, everything with any sort of “ink” wrote beautifully on the particular paper I’m working with this time (Canson Baryta Photographique). One dry pencil also worked fine (the Schwan all-stabilo 8046); a mechanical pencil with HB lead and a charcoal marker didn’t mark at all. (Maybe it’s not that surprising; this paper has an ink-receptive surface layer after all.)

Even more surprisingly, every pen I looked up info on claimed to be archival and acid free; apparently all of these pens I grabbed meet my technical criteria. (Well, all but one; for total giggles I tried a Big Round Stic, a very cheap ballpoint.  Surprisingly, it wrote on the paper perfectly well. It’s hard enough to damage the surface, and I have no reason to consider its ink suitably permanent, so I would strongly recommend against actually using it to sign artwork.)

Writing Implements Tried

Writing Implements Tried

The implements I tried include:

  • Schwan All-Stabilo 8046 black pencil
  • Sakura Pigma Micron 08 #1 archival ink pen (fine soft-point)
  • Mechanical pencil with HB lead—did not write on this paper
  • Pilot Precise Grip Bold (liquid ink pen)
  • Uniball Signo Impact 207 RT (gel ink pen)
  • Sharpie Liquid Pencil (seems to be graphite ink pen)
  • Schmidt Easyflow 9000 M refill (gel ink refill)
  • Sanford Sharpie fine-point permanent marker (permanent felt-tip)
  • Blaisdell Charcoal Pencil Medium 633T—did not write on this paper


Here are the various results. I’m not bothering to label individual trials, you’ll need to try your pens on your paper anyway, but this shows that a wide range of pens made good solid clean marks on this paper, at least.



I also tried a few of them on the back of the paper.



ADDED: I found the Sakura almost impossible to smear. The other roller pens could be smeared just slightly by running a finger over them immediately after writing—not something I do frequently by accident, but it also indicates that stacking prints as I sign them might be a problem. The Stabilo pencil also smeared a tiny bit, interestingly.

Other Interesting Articles

Query on signing prints

How To Sign Photographs part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4

Signing Fine Art Prints