Printing An Etching Plate

15 Feb

strip a

I’m getting better each day and I spent half a day at Swansea Print Workshop printing some of my etching plates. I used Intaglio Printmaker’s black etching ink (drypoint shopmix) and BFK Rives 250 gsm paper. I soaked it for about an hour and a half while I prepared some registration sheets and fixed them to the bed of the etching press, under a sheet of clear plastic. I got my workstation set up, with plenty of newspaper and some small sheets cut from Yellow Pages, washed scrim and set the hotplate to medium.

strip b

I put the steel photopolymer plate onto the hotplate to warm up and spread some ink across it with a small rubber squeegee, pressing it into the grooves. Then I rubbed it with a piece of soft, washed scrim in a circular motion until the excess ink had been removed and finally rubbed over areas I wanted to highlight with a cotton bud (Q Tip).

strip c

I cleaned my hands with vegetable oil then washed them and, using ‘paper fingers’, rtemoved a sheet of soaked paper from the tray and slapped it up against the white board. Then I squeegeed it to remove excess water, then put it between some sheets of blotting paper an rolled over the top to get damp, but not too wet. I put the inked-up plate onto the plastic sheet on the press bed, over it’s registration marks.

strip d

I placed the damp paper, again with ‘paper fingers’ over the plate, using the second set of registration marks, put some clean tissue paper on top and put the swansdown blankets over the whole thing. Don’t worry, they’re not made from real swans. Then I turned the wheel and put the whole thing through the rollers.

strip e

Then I took the print, called ‘The Towel’, off the plate and put it to dry between sheets of acid-free tissue between two fibre boards for a couple of days. It’s one of a number of my pieces going into a new group exhibition in Fountain Fine Art gallery in Llandeilo, opening on Saturday 23rd February. If you’re in the area, please pop in πŸ™‚

17 Responses to “Printing An Etching Plate”

  1. kestrelart February 17, 2013 at 00:49 #

    Never done this. I cant wait for paint to dry let alone do this. But the results are great.

    • Rosie Scribblah February 17, 2013 at 14:14 #

      Thanks. I think you’ve got to be quite geeky (in the nicest possible way) to be a printmaker πŸ™‚

      • kestrelart February 20, 2013 at 01:36 #

        I would love to do this but you need vision and time to do it well.

      • Rosie Scribblah February 21, 2013 at 00:05 #

        Sure do πŸ™‚

  2. allesistgut February 16, 2013 at 17:47 #

    Thanks for sharing your impressions about the workshop. Very interesting. πŸ™‚

  3. Hansi February 16, 2013 at 15:49 #

    I really got behind print making in college: etching and lithography. It’s cool to have a mechanical process involved in the production of ones art. Kinda adds a ‘craft’-ness to the whole thing. That’s why I have been doing pottery for the past fifteen years: love the ‘throwing’, mixing of glazes, and firing of gas kilns. Trippy beyond belief.

    • Rosie Scribblah February 16, 2013 at 20:43 #

      I adore the craft of art. I think it’s integral. Grayson Perry has a lot to say on this – he’s a printmaker and ceramicist. He does marvellous etchings which he then fires onto his ceramic sculptures.

  4. Tin Roof Press February 15, 2013 at 23:41 #

    that print looks amazing. i so want one

    • Rosie Scribblah February 16, 2013 at 20:41 #

      Thank you. I’ll be putting these recent etchings onto my website soon πŸ™‚

  5. paperstew February 15, 2013 at 23:16 #

    Ohh, I like the squeegee idea. Normally I blot them with clean bath towels then use a blotter and roller method (I often use rolling pins). Thanks for a new idea!

    • Rosie Scribblah February 16, 2013 at 21:22 #

      You have to remember to keep wiping the blade because it’s surprising how much gunk comes out of sized paper. It’s just one of those cheap ones for window cleaning πŸ™‚

  6. kate wilson February 15, 2013 at 23:11 #

    I haven’t done any printing for years – this makes me want to seek out a local print workshop and see what happens…

  7. anna warren portfolio February 15, 2013 at 22:44 #

    Nice description of the process! What will we do without yellow pages?!


  1. One From The Archive 13: The Gathering | scribblah - September 24, 2015

    […] For the etching, I worked on the drawing, using nib pen, Indian ink, ink wash and black oilbar onto transparent film. You can see this and other prepared drawings in my previous blog here. From these, I was able to makeΒ photopolymer plates which I used to produce etchings. You can see a detailed description of how I produced the etchings here. […]

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