Wednesday, 17 February 2010

"Attic" Zinc etching

This print or should I say zinc plate started out in “life” ages and ages ago BUT there were things I liked about the plate and I had put a lot of work into it so , of course I did not throw it away.  Wish I had a photo of the original proof  but I don’t.  This is because I suppose I also had no mass on it  and it was made in the days before I documented the process of making my artworks.    Having said that of late I haven’t been involving myself in  too much documentation  of late, either but that’s another story and its probably because I have so many prints on the go at present.
Anyway here’s a proof of the main part of the plate that I kept.  I chopped the other section off and probably did throw that away.  It’s a plate with the ready made backing on it you know the green colour.    This particular proof my good friend Tatiana made for me one Saturday when she was round here and I was trying to get an edition of prints the green door stuff finished so that was really helpful. 

I spoke to Bill at FDPW about how to eliminate the parts I did not want and he concurred with me that yes the best approach would be to sand it and then re aquatint it.  

Where the ‘newly aquatinted  sprayed areas” met the original plate surface would need to be soft so I did some tests and research into that.   It seems to me a question that I have never had satisfactorily answered and yet it’s such a basic and essential piece of ammunition necessary for a printmaker. 
I would appreciate any comments on this in particular.  Heres’ a couple of jpgs of some little tests I did in an effort to arrive at something satisfactory.
At the same time I was starting to think that I needed a further amount of ‘picture space’.   I located another section of the exact same kind of zinc plate to go on the left, as you view it on the press bed OR on the right once it is proofed. A fine aquatint spray was applied on that  plate also.  
Then it was proofed – I scanned it and desaturated it to black and white and considered some possibilities image wise.  I had this image of a figure which I had drawn ages ago which was like a falling figure just in outline format, which I liked and decided that it worked well against the window like image on the plate.

I also had this dog like image which I had drawn and then used it to make some small miniprints using stencils, for a project in Columbia (which will be my next post) and it had become distorted in the process of my doing those – resulting in a slightly more menacing looking being.  It seemed to go really well within this ‘tonal atmosphere’  - the crazy thing was that the image seemed to be resonating from that original plate that I had done over 10 years ago.  Anyway I played around with the various elements.
I quite enjoyed playing around in Photoshop with these in tones going from white to black.  At this point it seemed somehow that the ‘extra’ plate  section, worked in terms of  its location i.e.,  being positioned  at the side of the main plate.

Because time was running out I applied the dog figure to the  small plate with Lascaux acrylic hard ground. 


 I made an acetate in Photoshop of the dog figure which I then carefully cut out with a scalpel knife.  I placed it over the area where I wanted it and painted on one thin layer of the liquid using one of my pro arte brushes.  

 I had purchased a set of them a while back ostensibly to use when applying lino etch solution but have found that they are very suited to applying the Lascaux range of Acrylic Resist etch liquids.   
Just examining one of these brushes now and it says “Basics Art Brush D480A006”  Nothing about Pro arte ??   I have thought all along that this is what these are.

They are dark blue (long) handled,, with a metallic effect painted tip.  The ferrules are silver metal. The heads are white soft,  cottony – ish, probably synthetic and although they are as I said soft – there’s a firmness to them all the same.  So these are the kinds of brushes that I find work well with the Lascaux A.R.E. product range.

NOTE: In the book by Carol and Robert they say to use “to use a soft fine haired brush such as a sable, or watercolour brush  or a Prolene brush made by ProArte”.


If painting large areas with acrylic etch resist , although the liquids are supposed to be self levelling it seems none the less a good idea to apply it with a soft-ish  brush so as not to leave brush marks.  I applied three thin coats and allowed them to dry in between I left them 30 mins  at a time to make sure although I think the stuff dries especially if applied thinly in about 10 mins.  When dry I scribed into it using the tip of  a scalpel to engrave some  ink holding lines. 

Oh by now I had realised that I wanted the extra plate to go on the top of the other image , which for me made it all “knit together’ and although the final outcome wasn’t as perfect as I might have liked .  I was reasonably happy with it.


  1. Hi Aine! What a long time it has been! Hope you are recovered from your surgery - it's great to see you posting again. I always enjoy following your process and problem-solving, and this has turned out really well.
    I also really love the golden colour of the original at the top. Can you remember what ink this is? All the best!

  2. Hi Amanda
    You're right it has been a long time ....and thanks for asking about how I have been following on from my spinal surgery. I think the pain is slightly less than previously although its still hard going I mean just the pure effort required to keep on with practically doing things moving around with my trolley and so on. But if I wasn't able to do that then I would be so miserable so you have to be thankful for small mercies ( Did I learn that from the nuns ??!!

    The ink you asked about, is etching ink - made by Intaglio Printmakers (London) their own brand. The colour is "warm yellow".
    I think you can mix that colour especially since I know from reading your blog that you are quite capable at practical things. Cadmium red and a little warm red....but Yeah, I appreciate sometimes the way a particular colour really grabs you !!


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