Etching

20 Oct 2016- Practical Workshop, Introduction to Etching, with David Sully.

What could be better than having a golden twinkle revealed as one draws through the black hard ground into a copper plate. Even though I am not an illustrator, there is something about the physicality of this process that is very satisfying.

Etching work in progress.
Etching work in progress.

I will want to experiment more with the timings of the plate in the acid-bath. Some of the examples of long exposures in the bath, produced some interesting results. And as you can see below, extremely long exposures can eat right into the plate, which are sculptural objects in their own right.

Effects of a long acid bath.
Effects of a long acid bath.

I can see some limitations in this process if one wants a layered final image. If you are working in black and white or with one colour, the end result is beautiful (if you ink the plate properly!). In this process the paper needs to be wet to print, and you cannot do layered printing, like you could with screenprinting. But, I suspect some interesting experimentation could be attempted here.

I recently took an intro photo intaglio course at Spike Island, the results were more photographic than my attempts at screenprinting from a photo stencil. I think more experimentation is needed, but the embossed edges around the image from the plate being squished into the paper, is one of the best features of this process. It brings a tactility and dimensionality, that you don’t get from many of the other printmaking processes.

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In the etching studio.
In the etching studio.

One could add layers to the image with embossing or debasing rather than color. A quieter and more-subtle way of building on an image. Although you could also play with this understatement, by using controversial and unexpected text.

I am not sure if it is because I have taken a couple of intro courses in etching that makes the etching studio feel at home, but it is definitely a space I would like to spend more time in. Perhaps it is the cosiness of the think felt blankets on the printing presses, or the scrim hung up like an art instillation. The almost mid-evil way of using candles to deposit soot and blacken the plate for etching also adds the atmosphere.

Print from the etching workshop.
Print from the etching workshop.
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