Test plates

First day back in the studio yesterday.  Making lots of things in my head over the past few weeks meant the encounter with reality could only end in disappointment.

The image below is from late January when I’d been working in the Black Church Printmaking studio for a while. There are test proofs on the wall showing the results of various metals etched in different etching agents. I kept the drawing approach essentially the same to better gauge the different results. In the past I’ve used nitric acid to etch copper but I’d prefer to avoid nitric now (it’s too toxic) so experimented with copper sulphate solutions to etch different grades of aluminium. The characteristics of aluminium and how it’s etched produce a lot of irregularities. Copper behaves more predictably and is a more beautiful material to handle. I’m not giving up on the aluminium yet though.

I was making softgrounds. The technique requires that you draw indirectly on the plate, usually through newsprint or other light paper, so as to make an impression in the soft wax underneath. The resulting etched lines mimic whatever tool you’ve used to make the drawing.  After printing the paper is still damp; I pin the sheets to the wall so they will stay flat as they dry and shrink.

I like how the coloured pins look.

Some of the newsprint sheets are on my studio wall. As always with printmaking there are discrete stages. Each stage produces it’s own byproducts and I often find these interesting in themselves.

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