As you might have discovered, it’s a good idea to let your fine art inkjet prints dry before they’re stuck in frames. Depending on the ink / paper combination this can take various times but if you use a paper that takes a while to fully absorb the ink, you’ll end up with vapors being trapped in the frame if you frame them too soon. In my case, I have two issues, one is that there’s cat hair floating around, and even one hair landing on a print while it’s fresh out of the printer will ruin the print. Well maybe not always, it depends on where it lands. If the print (I’m using Epson Exhibition F Gloss paper with K3 inks) is still wet and it lands in a dark area, I have never been able to remove it without pulling up ink at the same time. If it lands in a very light area, then you’ve got a good chance.
At any rate, the paper is expensive, and it takes a long time to do big prints, and you just don’t want to have to do it all over again.
I divide the process into two parts – drying and curing.
I purchased boxes from Uline which come flat, and fold into 24 x 28 x 4 inches high. Close and tape one end of the box. I also bought cardboard pads that are 24 x 30 inches. This is the size of the largest paper I use.
Since I don’t want to have the prints sitting on cardboard for various reasons – not exactly acid-free, and cardboard isn’t smooth; I also bought a roll of acid-free glassine paper and cut sheets the size of the cardboard sliders that will go into the boxes. I staple the paper to the cardboard.
After that it’s just a matter of stacking the cardboard boxes somewhere that the cat can’t get to them and tape them all together into one unit.
It’s not perfect because two inches of the print stick out of the box. On the other hand they get enough air (I happen to have a ceiling fan which helps) and it’s a good way to prevent particles from falling on the paper while it’s still remotely wet.
After two days of drying, I can then cut sheets of the glassine paper to stick between the prints and stack about ten prints in one of the original Epson paper boxes.
The system works pretty well because it’s sort of like sliding pizza into an oven. The cardboard / glassine board serves to help make sure you don’t bend the big paper while you are placing it (often from a ladder) into the drying boxes, and then later when you are removing the inkjets you just take it out on the cardboard pad with glassine.
It is of course extremely cheap, and even in my tiny apartment, I’ve made two stacks of cartons so far, each six high, and I have space to do another two stacks if I need to. In other words, with this Po Boy system I can have 24 prints drying at any one time.
Later, when it comes time to shipping, the original Epson box makes a great inner container (it has a cardboard buffer and comes with three sheets of 24 x 30 inch cardboard for the top and bottom. You then need a larger flat box so that you can wrap the Epson box with bubble wrap and stick it into the outer box. Pretty sturdy way to get out a bunch of large prints.
Six drying cartons with a few sliders left sticking out. (Beautiful – eh?)