Tag Archives: etching

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

 

The Thrill Of Tools

26 Jul

 

A lot of my art practice is preparing stuff, using tools and chemicals and getting equipment ready way before I move onto the creative bit. I’ve always loved tools and woodwork and metalwork. I was one of that generation that went to a single sex school and these subjects were not available so imagine the thrill I had when I went to art college and immersed myself in fully equipped workshops.

I spent this afternoon at Swansea Print Workshop, preparing some aluminium plates for coffee bite etching. There’s a layer of plastic film on one side, protecting the soft surface and the first job is to file the edges to get a nice chamfered edge. Then the rough filed edge has to be smoothed with a scraper and finished with a burnisher. The scraper / burnisher above is by Intaglio Printmaker Ltd in London. Finally, I peeled the plastic backing off and carefully degreased the plates with a cloth dipped in soy sauce and powdered chalk, rinsing it off with hot running water. I dried them on a hotplate ready for the coffee bite process. But that’s for another day……

 

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

Coffee And Spit Bite

25 Jul

I’m going to be at Swansea Print Workshop tomorrow and I’ll be preparing some aluminium plates ready for some coffee bite etching, using some of my drawings of Neolithic stone monuments for inspiration. Here’s a blog I did a while back about this technique, which was invented by Andrew Baldwin of Aberystwyth University, an expert in non-toxic etching……

More geeky printmaking stuff from last weekend’s B.I.G. Etching course with Andrew Baldwin at Swansea Print Workshop. The aluminium plate was degreased with whiting and soy sauce to get it re…

Source: Coffee And Spit 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

Copper And Stone

7 May
The first proof off the new etching plate

The first proof off the new etching plate

I etched two plates at the recent course at Swansea Print Workshop with Andrew Baldwin of Trefeglwys Print Studio, one aluminium, one copper. I’ve just done a first proof from the copper plate. I used a hardground and the traditional technique of drawing into it with an etching needle than adding aquatint. Andrew demonstrated how to do aquatint using his non-toxic B.I.G. process which involved putting the grounded plate through the etching press with a piece of emery paper face down on top of the ground. This cuts tiny holes into the ground which will etch as an aquatint. I did several dips into Ferric Chloride, ‘stopping’ out areas as I went along to develop the different tones.

 

Then I cleaned the B.I.G. ground off the plate, dried it and inked it up to take the first proof. It’s paler than I wanted it, possibly I needed to etch it for longer, possibly it’s a result of using a very soft ‘drypoint’ ink with a soft Somerset paper. I need to try another proof with a heavier, stiffer ink to see if it makes a difference, otherwise I’m going to have to do some work on the plate.

Andrew Baldwin’s new book comes out in October in conjunction with the opening of the ‘BIG Exhibition’. The book will give step by step guides to all the processes that can be used with BIG. The call for entries for the exhibition is open from 1st June and is open to all who have made prints using BIG. All entries should first be sent to Andrew via atb@aber.ac.uk. The exhibition will open at The School of Art in October and then travel to other galleries in UK before going over to USA.

The subject is the King’s Quoit stone monument at Manorbier in Pembrokeshire. I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m currently working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

 

The First Proof!

5 May

First proof

I spent this afternoon at an Open Access session at Swansea Print Workshop, ready to take a first proof from my coffee-lift-spit-bite aluminium etching plate, developed at last weekend’s BIG Etching course with Andrew Baldwin. I chose a soft textured Somerset paper from St. Cuthbert’s Mill and Intaglio Printmaker’s Drypoint Shop Mix etching ink. It’s softer than the usual etching ink, specially designed for delicate drypoint plates, but I fancied using it on this because I like its soft smudginess.

 

I’m very pleased with this first proof of one of the standing stones I have been drawing over the past 2 months. The coffee lift technique is wonderfully free and suits my drawing style – I did most of the drawing onto the aluminium plate with a dip pen and a reed pen. I like the splashes and dribbles, so much more spontaneous than traditional copper plate etching with a hard ground.

Andrew Baldwin’s new book comes out in October in conjunction with the opening of the ‘BIG Exhibition’. The book will give step by step guides to all the processes that can be used with BIG. The call for entries for the exhibition is open from 1st June and is open to all who have made prints using BIG. All entries should first be sent to Andrew via atb@aber.ac.uk. The exhibition will open at The School of Art in October and then travel to other galleries in UK before going over to USA.

I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m currently working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

 

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