I have bought a few basics for etching. Some small zinc plates, some hard and soft ground and a scraper/burnisher.
But for etching on metals you need lots more stuff and I had to read up how to do it again. A file for the edges, a hot plate (or the cooker :) for warming the plate for the application of the ground and a roller for applying this sort of ball ground (which I don’t have). Then there is the etching solution.
I found an old file of Dads and filed down the edges of a small 4 x4 inch zinc block which I bought from the very nice people at Hawthorn Printmaking who have supplied lots of my printmaking stuff, the etching chemicals and lino and inks and a roller etc. They are a great company.
You bevel and polish the edges to stop them cutting into the paper and the blankets and in order not to have a black border. It should be a smooth bevel… mine was a bit rough.. but I think it’s all in the technique.
It started off much too thick and so chipped when I scratched into it, so I tried again. Then I thought it was too thin.Then seemed too patchy. In all I started drawing different things on this block and then reapplying the ground 4 times.
Eventually, it just had to do and I made a sketch of my Pig in Jacket. It’s a little porcelain pig which I had for many years. Sadly, along with almost everything else I owned it was lost 3 years ago in the fire. But because of the pig project I looked out a photo. He is very sweet and deserves a really nice drawing or painting which I will get round to soon.
The next step was taping the back of the plate so that it doesn’t disintegrate in the etch.
Next I made the etching solution which I had to look up online. It’s basically copper sulphate and salt. It’s the first time I have ever made up an etching solution, the only other times I have etched a plate the tutors had a nice acid solution made up.
This is classed as “ non toxic” .. but should perhaps be called less toxic. It’s a beautiful blue green liquid and when the plate went in I had no idea how long to leave it in or what would happen. I gave it about 10 mins and took it out thinking it was a complete disaster and that my patchy ground was a failure..but.. to be honest it wasn’t too bad!
I removed the ground to reveal something like the image I had expected with a few strange additions. It’s a bit of a mess because I had started drawing into the ground a few times so there are some odd scratches here and there which don’t really make sense but, actually, I was amazed it worked. Another bit of printy magic.
I was rather too keen to get some images printed and made a few really poor pale prints before realising I would have to tighten the press much more and leave more ink on.
Eventually by 5 o’clock I had a few prints left on the table and lots more in the bin.
My Pig in Jacket…with a bird which seems to have a strange lasso thing round it’s head. Either that or the pig is wielding a small hacksaw.. Hmm…who knows.