as per my previous posts, i’ve been looking into alternative barens for printing by hand. i ended up making a super simple wood and tack baren and just tested out the results today. have a look!
you probably can’t tell from this photo specifically, but on the right is a pull i did using my usual method of printing (the wooden spatula) which had poor results as far as getting a solid transfer. i run into this problem a lot when i use my beloved heavier weight western papers, especially on larger blocks.
on the left, my very first pull using the new baren. same ink, same paper. look at the difference!
since this is a fresh pull, the ink is still wet and a little tough to photograph. but you can see the kind of crisp lines i am getting. compare that to this…
yuck! texture is unavoidable in many applications of printmaking, especially if you are doing it by hand, but it is super frustrating to not get the results you know you can get. try as i might, i just couldn’t get a decent transfer using my wooden spatula. not without breaking my arm at least.
so why does the nail baren work so well? the obvious reason is the fact that it’s textured instead of one big flat surface. smaller points of contact means more PSI. several small points of contact clustered together proves way more effective than just one flat one over the same area.
but that’s not the only reason. as compared to the spatula (or spoon barens in general), holding this tool feels more ergonomic. it fits right in the palm and i am able to lean into it with my body weight more, rather than rely entirely on the strength of my arm and fingers for the pressure.
additionally, the metal tacks create a completely frictionless surface, requiring less effort to move the baren.
so, long story short: this is a good, cheap DIY baren that seems to work well for thicker papers and inks (i use stonehenge with caligo safewash), you can get better results with less pressure than a flat baren!