Previous AA2A Artist
My experience of AA2A has been rewarding, instructive and an invaluable access to apparatus and space and has led to many interesting conversations with students about process.
I have discovered that in printmaking, if it can go wrong, it will. It has been over forty years since last I did any etching and I have become aware that it is important to follow the exact technical requirements from degreasing a plate, to the speed the bed is wheeled through the press. Modern safe, acrylic, hard ground etching is fascinating.
Little by little, one picks up tips; keep your damp paper in an airtight bag until needed; file the plate edge to a bevel for a clean impression; lay your prints under soft boards to dry flat and so on.
The two main variables in etching are the strength of the copper sulphate solution, which does the biting and the time the plate lies in this liquid. My practice now is to make a card envelop for each new plate and record, on this wallet, every detail of strength and time.
I ruined three of my first ten plates through lack of a methodical approach. It really pays to do some experimental test strips if you can.
Another variable is the copper sulphate, which degrades each time it etches. Removing the waste particles from the liquid at the end of each day helps keep the strength of the mix.
A good magnifying glass is essential in order to examine the depth of the line. My ninth plate was too faint, but because I used a transparent ground, I could recoat the plate and, seeing the image beneath, rework the drawing.
It is sometimes possible to remove lines using a scraper and burnisher and I always polish the zinc plate with Brasso, but most importantly, if I want areas of white paper, the discipline is simple, don’t make mistakes in drawing.
Towards the end of the AA2A time, I began to explore soft ground methods, but none of this would have been possible without good technical support (thank you Sean).
The theme of my etchings are ‘faces’ and I will be exhibiting the prints in the craft gallery of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists from May 17th to June 14th 2008
etching, stencil - 220 x 162mm