Monday, 4 July 2011

I've just been on a printing course at Cuckoo Farm Print workshop with the amazing Jill Desborough and learnt how to do soft ground etching .  I also took my first tentative steps with aquatint...
I started off with a drawing,  a Jackdaw in a cage, a piece of zinc was cut to the size of the drawing.   Then the zinc plate is meticulously cleaned with whiting, washing up liquid and a barbers shaving brush.
The plate is then thinly coated with a softground.This is done by putting the plate to warm on a hotplate, a very small amount of the 'ground' is applied and then roller'ed to create a very thin coating, changing the colour of the zinc from silver to golden syrup.

My plate was then laid on a sheet of paper, I drew around it for registration then my drawing was laid on top, the edge of the drawing was sellotaped to the sheet of paper underneath with the plate making a sandwich in the middle, so that I didn't move whilst I was transferring the drawing.

When I'd finished drawing the plate was placed into the acid bath for a few minutes to allowing the acid to etch the areas which had been removed by my drawing....This is the 'transfered' drawing to the plate. 
The plate is then cleaned, inked up and printed.  At this stage it was all a bit disappointing.
So I did a little dry point etching, drawing into the plate with an etching needle, adding a little detail.
Then another print was taken. The plate was cleaned once again.  Improving?... A little. it shows the etched lines
The next stage was the aquatint, with a newly cleaned plate, all ink removed, the plate was put into the aquatint box, it was switched on for a split second then the 'rosin' was allowed to settle onto the plate for a couple of minutes. This stuff 'Rosin' is a carcinogenic so health and safety precautions where taken.
The plate was then very gently heated.
Next step I applied 'stop out' varnish to the areas that I wanted to keep brightest.  Back in the acid, this time it was stronger.  It was in there for 30 seconds, then rinsed.
Then back to the stop out varnish and the acid bath..Twice more. 
Final prints... Paper a bit cockled, but you get the idea.
What a day, my brain ached, so much information, so much to learn, immediately booked another day with Jill.  My brain was on overload..... And all for an amazing £25.  For the day!!!  What a bargain.

Then a quick dash home, hair wash, bath....  Which I desperately needed to relax, and then off out to the most amazing dinner party that I have been to in a very long time.

Needless to say I was exhausted yesterday....Too tired to blog...... Too much brain work yesterday  too many Pimms and far too much wine.... And great food... I'm on a diet starting today.. Ha!  And blogging...

*** Now I'm off to the post office.... I have a parcel from America waiting... WHO?  Has sent me a parcel? Exciting... ***


  1. Interesting process, where will it all end up? -J

  2. Wow, what a superb workshop. So glad to read you enjoyed and got so much from it. x

  3. Just reading aboutyour busy weekend has made me feel tired. I must be getting old. So much to do with so little time to do it!!!!!!!
    Your finished piece looks fantastic and worth all that energy you put into it......
    Thanks for your comments on my last post. They were so funny it really made my day, so much i am know going on that photography course i mentioned.....xx

  4. wow, thank you for explaining all of that julie, because i have always wondered how that worked... i think that each and every print is splendid!! really! just wonderful... xoxo


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I am always pleased to read what you have to say and will always try to answer any questions you have to ask. ~ Julie