breaking the sizing

How can you break the sizing on a thick piece of paper, so it’s soft for printing? I’ve heard that can be done. Could that be used in watercolor papers? Thanks.

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The conventional way to print on heavily sized paper is to slightly dampen the sheets. This can be done in a variety of ways, and has been thouroughly discussed in this forum previously.


You are not going to be able to “break the sizing” on a thick paper (with external sizing), especially those formulated for watercolor. Dampening won’t help much since the sizing is purposely there to reject moisture and prevent ink travel. As an example, Stonehenge is specifically a water color paper and dampening it will not help your presswork if at all. But it does respond well to a good whack when printed dry.


I have successfully dampened 300gsm rough surfaced watercolor papers and printed on them, but it takes a lot of water to dampen and a lot of time for absorbtion. “Break the sizing” is an odd term because sizing is usually a water based glue that hardens the interior and surface of the paper depending on how it is sized. Dampening only softens the paper and the sizing. Too wet and the water repells the ink; too dry and the sizing repells the ink. As the old-timers would say - dampened paper should be dry to the touch, but cool when touched to the cheek. I use a Bonsai sprayer with a pump that builds up pressure so as to expell a very fine mist. I find it very controllable and especially good for moistening the outer edges of the paper which tend to dry faster.

Thanks for the helpful tips everybody!