Saturday, 31 January 2015

failed attempt at printing an etching but a great learning opportunity


I made this pen and ink sketch last summer (2014) when a lovely young friend was getting married and I needed to think of something to make as a wedding present. This was the first study made on heavy water colour paper using a very fine 0.2 Mitsubishi Uni pin pen. I scoured google for photographs of hares and finally made sketches of a piece of sculpture..adding a more muscular interpretation.

So after gifting the first sketch I made a couple more to see how it would/could work as an etching...not that I have ever made an etching let alone a print before.

I watched countless youtube videos and felt rather overwhelmed by the process of creating a metal plate with the various coatings and acid baths so feeling a bit of a coward I finally bought some acetate or plexiglass, which is especially for etching.  This was particularly easy to use as you can just lay it on top of your image and start scratching the surface. My drawing included lots and lots of individual hairs rather than shaded areas so I just followed what I had already done. I already had a few suitable pointy tools but found a simple set of etching tools which worked well enough.
This photograph was taken outside so as well as seeing the hare and a few dandelion seeds above its head a tree and bits of house are also visible. These needless to say are not part of the composition.


I bought these water based printing inks in the local art shop...the down side of just watching videos and reading books is that you can't quizz the printmaker about the best way to do things so this was all trial and error..with lots of error.

I envisaged using soft colours so mixed a little white with red for this fairly bright pink..I spread the inks onto a piece of clean glass using one of my oil painting spatulas. I love the mixing process and the hissing noises the brayer makes as it rolls the ink.

As I only have an old mangle that screws onto a table I decided to do the whole process of printing outside in the sunshine. The girls gave me all kinds of encouraging advice.

So here you can see the mangle screwed firmly onto the garden table, the inks mixed ready for rolling with the brayer onto the plate, piece of damp water colour paper to use for the printing and as I didn't have a felt blanket I used a couple of clean tea towels and a and towel...not ideal!



I wadded up some tissue inside a piece of silk and used that as a dauber to apply the ink. Later when I finally did find a local class we put the oiled based rather than water based  ink on with a clean piece of card. Which makes sense..why would I use a piece of silk!! At least the water based ink washes out...I think!


Anyway back in September 2014 I only inked the lines of the image...each scratch creates a trough for the ink to sit in. This was no doubt also a mistake as when I eventually inked it up with oil based ink I had to cover the whole thing and then left off the excess finally polishing it clean with telephone directory paper after lifting the heavy layers with tartalan or starched cheesecloth. That aside I rather liked the resulting object of the plexiglass with the ink hare and dandelion seeds...by this time I was getting so excited.


This is the plexiglass held a little away from the white surface underneath so it's a double image.

My funny little mangle!


I placed the plexiglass image up on top of a clean towel..then the damp paper and two more clean tea towels and turned the handle. I got a lovely rectangular shape made by the edges of the acetate but no hare..well it was so feint you could hardly see it.

I still enjoyed the pink ink image on the plexiglass but was very frustrated not to get a print!!





Determined to find myself a teacher!! and not long after this got a reply following someone else cancelling from Mary Stephens classes down at Omega Printmakers Workshop in Portsmouth starting January 2015. More posts after her much needed words of wisdom