Archive | 21:53

A Light Bite

28 Jul

I had another afternoon at Swansea Print Workshop today and carried on with my aluminium etching plates. On Tuesday I filed and degreased three plates, did a ‘coffee bite’ drawing on each, rolled a soft ground over them and ‘cured’ them in an oven. They had to be left for a day or two to harden.


The ‘cured’ plates ready for developing in warm water

So this afternoon I developed the images by washing the plates in warm water. The black ground lifted off the plate where I had drawn with coffee.


Washing the cured plate: the coffee lifts off revealing the drawing.

Once I dried the plates, I had to seal the backs to protect them when I put them into the etching mordant, a copper sulphate solution. I used overlapping strips of parcel tape.


Protecting the back of the plate with parcel tape.

Then I put each plate in turn into a tray of copper sulphate solution which ‘bit’ the aluminium, causing tiny little holes to appear on the exposed areas of the plate which will give a very pale grey when the plate is printed. It also gives a good keyed surface for applying spit bite with brushes later.


Biting an aluminium plate in copper sulphate solution

The plates were in for less than a minute because I only needed a very light bite at this stage. You can tell that the mordant is working because the surface bubbles and effervesces and deposits a thick brownish sludge on the plate.


The effervescing plate covered with a brown sludge

And then it’s all washed and dried, ready for the next stage, applying the spit bite.

ready to bite



I have been travelling across South Wales with Rhondda-born archaeologist Dewi Bowen and Swansea film maker Melvyn Williams, hunting the wild megalith, accompanied by my portable drawing board, portfolio of Fabriano paper and a bag full of assorted artist’s materials.  Dewi is researching his latest book on Neolithic monuments and Melvyn is making a documentary film of our literary and artistic adventures.

If you want to know more about my solo show in The Worker’s Gallery in the Rhondda Valley in September, please click here.

And if you want to see some of my other artwork, please click on the image below.



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