If I had any sense, I’d farm the big print out to a service bureau. I really like to do all my printing myself. It may be that I’m a photographic control freak, or maybe just overly perfectionistic, but there it is. So I’m committing myself to the time consuming and expensive operation of changing the 9800 over to Photo Black ink. I’ve ordered a roll of Exhibition Fiber and the ink.
While I’m waiting for the supplies to arrive, I’ve got time to consider the signatures. When I dry mounted silver prints, I signed the mat lightly in pencil. That worked great; it was archival, and didn’t draw attention to itself. When I started making inkjet prints on matte paper, I just signed the print itself in pencil. That technique doesn’t work on the glossy paper I’m using for the Staccato series. I’ve been signing prints using Millenium Zig pens. I can get a nice fine line, but the signature is so dark that it draws attention to itself. I’d really like to get the pens loaded with grey ink instead of black, but they’re not made that way. As far as I can tell, there are no similar archival pens available with grey ink.
There are many soft-tip archival pens, but I haven’t found any with a tip fine enough for signing prints.
To show you how desperate I’ve become, I even considered signing and dating several pieces of blank paper, scanning them, and incorporating the scanned signature into the printed image. I could sign the image on the back for authenticity. However, this somehow seems like cheating, even lying; the signature is supposed to be a holographic marking.
I signed all the prints using the 01 and 005 Millennium pens. They produce lines on the Exhibition Fiber that look about the same width to me. Being so fine, both pens tend to skip when you sign at normal speed. Slowing down makes the signature look stilted, but that’s the only choice; the wider pens are too bold. By the way, I practiced on normal glossy paper, and the pens have smoother flow on that paper than on Exhibition Fiber.
I had to reprint about a third of the prints because I flubbed the signature. Then I took a good hard look at the ones I thought were OK. They weren’t. There were skips and inconsistencies in the lines. I decided to reprint the whole set and sign them in wide pen on the back. They’ll look naked on the wall, but it’s better than having a sloppy signature on the front.
I’m not particularly happy with this solution to my signature problem, but it’s the best I can do for now.