Tag Archives: etching

The Difference

17 Apr

 

double drop 3

Preparing an etching plate or a wood block or a silk screen is just the first stage of creativity in making an original print. The second creative input comes with the actual printing – the inks, papers and special effects you use. I printed the one above using the ‘double drop’ technique, printing the plate first in Vermilion and secondly in Prussian Blue. Although it’s quite monochromatic, it has a richer, more intense colour than the print below, which was just printed once, in black ink.

single drop .jpg

Metal Marbling

15 Apr

 

marbling

I’ve done marbling onto paper before but this is marbling onto an etching plate. I spent the weekend at a masterclass in etching at Andrew Baldwin’s Trefeglwys Print Studio in Powys. We covered quite a few processes and I’ve wanted to see this one for a while. Andrew marbles a metal plate with his B.I.G. (Baldwin’s Ink Ground) and bakes it to harden it up and then etches it. The results are gorgeous. Here he’s just poured some of the B.I.G., thinned out with lavender oil, onto a solution of vinegar and water and is dragging a stick through it to enhance the marbled effect, just before dipping a prepared aluminium plate onto it.

A Happy Accident

26 Jan

 

poster

Exhibition: “Female Expressions”, Saturday 2nd – Saturday 23rd February. Queen Street Gallery, Neath.

This is an etching of mine called “Ripples” made from an original life drawing, working with a professional model. It’s part of a series of etchings of the nude which I called “Rinascere” which relates to the word Renaissance because I based the etchings on Renaissance drawing techniques. I call it Ripples because of the ripples moving over her body which were an accidental effect of the process. I used a photosensitive etching plate from a drawing on tracing paper. It looked all right but after it had been exposed in the UV light box, I noticed ripples on the plate from the slight undulations on the tracing paper. They were there because I used wet media for the drawing. But I like it, a happy accident. It’s going to be in the “Female Expressions” exhibition.
ripples

 

 

 

Coming To Neath!

25 Jan

cushion crop

Saturday 2nd – Saturday 23rd February. This is a detail of “The Cushion”, one of my etchings that will shortly be in an exhibition called “Female Expression” in the lovely Queen Street Gallery in Neath.

It’s part of a series of etchings of the nude which I called “Rinascere” which relates to the word Renaissance because I based the etchings on Renaissance drawing techniques.

According to the exhibition’s curator, Jocelyn Prosser, this is…
An exhibition celebrating the female form. Each artist will give a unique and deeply personal expression of the female condition. Although diverse there is a bond in this exhibition that connects. It reveals the strength and fragility within the female psyche.”

 

Tiny Etchings

4 Nov

2018 miniatures

Coming up from November 10th, an exhibition of miniature prints at Swansea Print Workshop. The main exhibition showcases the Leftovers VIII international touring show but members of the print workshop will also be displaying tiny prints for sale ….. some lovely Xmas presents there! Here are some of the tiny drypoint etchings I’m submitting, they’ve been hand-coloured with watercolours. Come and have a look …..

Like Chalk And Cheese

17 Sep

I went to a weekend etching course at Trefeglwys Print Studio the weekend before last with two other printmakers – one of whom was Husb. He did some beautiful work but looking at what we produced emphasised that we’re like chalk and cheese. Here’s Husb’s beautifully modulated head of a child, burnished into a copper mezzotint plate, and my bonkers Mari Lwyd, an ancient Welsh traditional life-size puppet with a horse’s skull. Vive le Difference 😀

baby

 

mari mezzo plate

 

Mad Mari: The First Proof

16 Sep

first proof

In the last half hour or so of Andrew Baldwin’s weekend etching workshop at Trefeglwys Print Studio, I did a first proof print (on the left) of my coffee lift / spit bite aluminium etching plate, using Charbonnel black ink onto soaked Hahnemulle paper. I’m really pleased with it. It’s completely different to the faux mezzotint Mari Lwyd that I did on the first day (below). Same subject but a completely different interpretation. I like them both.

double drop 1

 

 

Spit And Splatter

15 Sep

mad mari 1

Carrying on with the coffee lift plate I worked on at Trefeglwys Print Studio last weekend, after washing the coffee off the plate, leaving the black B.I.G. etching ground masking most of the aluminium, I dipped it in copper sulphate solution for quite some time to etch the exposed areas really deep so they’ll give a good strong black when printed. Then when I was happy with the amount etched, the B.I.G. ground was cleaned off with non-toxic paint stripper.

 

mad mari 2

Then I started to etch the rest of the plate using a spit bite technique, brushing and splashing and splattering copper sulphate solution onto the aluminium. You have to keep rinsing the plate because the copper sulphate leaves a dark ‘rust’ on the plate as it etches and this will eventually build up and stop the etching process. You can see it above – the darker areas to the left of the Mari Lwyd’s face. After the very precise and tight process of the mezzotint plate I also did at the workshop, I wanted to be much freer and looser with this one.

Tomorrow …. finishing the spit bite etch and printing the plate …..

And here’s one of Andrew Baldwin’s videos demonstrating coffee lift and spit bite

 

Mad Mari

14 Sep

mad mari 1

So as well as working on a copper mezzotint plate at Andrew Baldwin’s weekend course at Trefeglwys Studios last weekend, there was also time to prepare an aluminium plate with coffee lift and spit bite. I used another of my drawings of the traditional Welsh Mari Lwyd from one of my sketchbooks. The Mari Lwyd is weird looking at the best of times but in this drawing she looks proper mad. The first stage is to degrease the aluminium plate (soy sauce and whiting powder) and then draw onto it with instant coffee. I used brushes and a large-ish nib pen and a bit of splatter. Then once the coffee was dry, I coated it with Andrew’s B.I.G. etching ground and baked it in the oven for 4 minutes to set it. Then it was washed in cold water to lift off the coffee, leaving the design showing through the black ground (above).

More teccie stuff tomorrow ……

The Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) is an ancient Welsh tradition rooted in the celebration of the Celtic horse goddess, Epona, and appears around the New Year, always accompanied by a band of revellers who often travel from pub to pub. The tradition was almost wiped out by Christianity and just a few Maris were left in Wales by the mid-20th century, but there has been a strong revival in recent years. The Mari Lwyd is a life-sized puppet based on a real horse skull and is therefore very heavy. The Mari’s skull is usually decorated with flowers, ribbons and bells and the eye sockets are often filled as well, giving a sinister appearance. She wears a white shroud to hide the puppeteer underneath, who operates a contraption that snaps the skull’s mouth open and closed.

 

Mari 1

Mari Abertawe (the Swansea Mari Lwyd) celebrating the New Year in a local hostelry with her companions

 

Real horse skulls are quite hard to come by these days, but there are card flatpack ones available – see here.

 

 

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.

cured

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.

washed

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.

backing

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.

dipped

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.

effervescing

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.

Quoit

 

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