Number 21 of a limited run of 21
Print size 26cm by 19cm ( 10" by 7 1/2" ), paper size 38cm by 28cm ( 15" by 11" ).
All etchings are hand inked and pulled by me using traditional printmaking techniques. This copper plate was etched, then cut in to pieces using a jewellery saw, which allows me to ink the plate with different colours. A new printing process I have developed.
The term etching can cover a variety of techniques, but usually refers to the corrosion of a metal plate using acid to produce a line. My etchings follow a very traditional method.
Preparing the plate.
I use zinc and copper for my plates, though expensive it gives me the detail and warmth I can't get with steel and aluminium. I clean the plate using ammonia and whiting to remove all the grease, as it is important for applying the hard ground. Hard ground is an acid resist made primarily from bees wax. I heat my plate just enough to melt the hard ground then use a roller to get a thin even coating on the plate.
Etching the plate.
Working from my sketches and photographs I roughly draw my design in mirror image on to the plate with a pen taking care not to damage the hard ground. With a steel etching needle I scratch my design in to the plate revealing the metal to be etched.
The plate can now be lowered in to the acid. This corrodes or 'bites' the copper where my scratches have exposed the surface. The length of time spent in the acid dictates the thickness and quality of line when printed.
Aquatinting is the method I use to give tint or tone to my etchings, much like a water colour wash. Carefully removing the hard ground and de-greasing my etched plate I'm ready to apply a fine dust called rosin made traditionally from pine resin. A cloud of rosin is created in a large box using a paddle, then as the fine dust falls I put in my plate. Like snow the rosin settles on to the copper, and without disturbing the dust the plate is removed from the box. Using a blow torch to heat the under side of the metal, the rosin is melted to the plate. Now when the plate is put back in the acid the unprotected copper is eaten away, leaving the tiny protected dots untouched. The longer the plate is left in the acid the darker the tint. By painting a resist on the surface with 'stop out' (a kind of varnish), the plate can be etched repeatedly giving several different tones to the final print.
Taking the print.
Using a upturned leather mushroom called a dabber, ink is worked in to the grooves left on the plate by etching process. Then with a muslin cloth the access ink is wiped off leaving the ink only in the grooves. Placing the inked copper plate face up on the printing press, pre dampened paper is carefully laid on top then three layers of felt. This sandwich is then forced between two steel rollers. The paper is pushed in to the grooves at such a force it pulls out all the ink. Now all that is needed is to dry and flatten the paper.
There is nothing better than revealing the first print.
Have any questions? Contact the shop owner.