Making and Knowing
A minimal edition of BnF Ms Fr 640 in English Translation

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Cutters of printing plates

To clean the copper plates or to have used ones print better, boil them for four or five hours in a good detergent with quite used laundry water. Then make your ink with some linseed oil instead of walnut oil and press with the rollers. The copper plates are ready sooner than the wood ones, but they are not so clean to print promptly. The wood ones are tedious but would have sooner printed twenty sheets against two [sheets] of the other. To print with wood, the secret is firstly to poach, that is to say to lay the transferred pattern or drawn piece down on the wood plank and to make sure that the drawn side is stuck to the wood. Once dry, you will gently rub with a moist handkerchief the reverse side of the paper which, by being rubbed, will become so fine that what will remain will almost only be the drawn part, which, after, one should trace while cutting the pattern. You could do that to ornamented glass and glass layered with black cut pieces, to then scrape and layer your colors on the uncovered [side]. To make ink for copper plates

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which is different from the printers’ one, you have to boil for a long time some walnut oil or, even better, some linseed oil, and after boiling for a long time, you will add garlic cloves and bread crusts to skim them and leave again to boil on big fire, then eventually you will add a measure of lampblack that you would have ground with some oil previously on the marble. And lastly you will mix everything and until you see that the plate prints well. And when you will have spread the ink, dry the plate with a white sheet of paper and do that until the paper looks clean and then print. If you dry the plates with a cloth, it would remove the ink off. Linseed oil gets thicker while boiling and becomes similar to a varnish and risks catching fire as soon as you boil it, so make sure that when you boil it, it is in an open space or where the flame cannot damage anything. Some burn some scale until it turns black and grind it with some non—boiled linseed oil or walnut oil that some consider to be better. This black is beautiful but the lamp smoke one is blacker. When you want to print, take with your finger’s end and reasonably spread some of the said black all over the plate previously cleaned with some detergent as said, then, rub it with a white sheet of paper until the paper is completely white and do not touch it with your bare hand but with a paper applied on it. And after cleaning the plate perfectly, rub again the sides and edges with a folded sheet of paper. Then, have [available] a small even table and on it a piece of felt, then a few sheets of paper and eventually the one you want to print on, moistened between two humid napkins. And on this sheet of paper, put your sheet then some more paper, and at least another piece of felt. Then put it through the rollers and you can print a dozen pieces consecutively while always charging the plate with ink and cleaning it as you did. But if you stop printing, the rest of the ink will dry out in the plate’s lines and so you will have to let it boil in detergent or urine, as said, to clean it. The rollers must not be too loose.