The Crown Point Ink Table
by Emily York
At Crown Point Press we ink and wipe our plates on a tall, heated stand. Our inking stand is about waist high and has a copper working surface that is lightly heated by a single hotplate burner.
Working at an ergonomic station can really improve the quality of your prints, as you’re able to work much more sensitively with your plate. If you’re inking and wiping your plate on a standard, low table you’re forced to hunch over in order to get a good look at your plate. Working on such a low surface also makes it much easier to exert too much pressure with your tarlatan and take too much ink out of the plate.
When you’re working with your plate it’s best if you’re standing up completely straight.
You’ll be surprised how much easier and natural it feels to work in this way. It is especially beneficial for hand wiping. When you’re able to hand wipe with your elbow just slightly bent you’ll find that there is much more finesse and ease to your stroke.
A heated surface also makes a huge difference. The top of our table is copper, though any metal surface will do.
We’ve used cancelled plates from our artist’s projects. There’s a shelf below the inking surface that the burner is placed on. The burner is turned to medium-low, which creates a pleasantly warm surface. If you can’t keep your hand on the surface without feeling like you’ll burn yourself, it’s too hot. This heated surface allows the ink to transfer smoothly and loosens it up a bit for tarlataning and hand wiping. You’ll probably find that you won’t feel the need to modify your inks quite as much in order for them to wipe easier.
You can use these specifications to make an inking table just like ours or modify them to suit your studio set-up. Your primary goal is to get the inking table at a good height for you and to give it a little heat. I’ve heard of other inventive twists on our concept. In a school, where the single plate burner creates too much of a fire risk, a high-watt light bulb was put in its place. I’ve also heard of someone using a heating pad directly below the metal inking surface. A fellow who took our workshops made several great inking tables based on ours but with surfaces about one-third the size. He put them on locking casters so they could be easily moved around their smaller studio.
Specifications for the Crown Point Press inking table: Height: 42"
It should be about waist high. We’ve found that this height suits most people but you can modify it to suit your needs. Be sure your back is straight when you are using it. Surface: 42 x 33"
This size works well for our largest 36 x 45"” plates but your stand could be whatever size best suits your space and the general size of your work. Burner Shelf: 12" down from the top surface.
Place the burner in the middle the platform. You can drill a large hole in the center to run the plug through if you like. We also put our chalk (for hand wiping) on this shelf. Bottom Shelf: 7" off the floor
This shelf is handy for storing the tarlatans you’re working with.