Exploring mezzotint

Emily Joy 2 months ago

I came to Pete, the print tutor at Loughborough, to chat about some strange ideas i'd had regardning printing onto crumpled paper and of printing 'in the round' off carved rocks and stones. Through chatting about my pen and ink drawings, he suggested mezzotint as its laborious method echoed the gradual building up of white ink lines on black ink in my drawings, carving out a form slowly over days. I took home a tiny 4 x 9cm piece of copper to experiment with, and came back to him last week after several hours of preparing the ground using a rocker and then burnishing back the copper burrs.

the copper plate heating before inking

I found the process significantly different; rather than scratching in parallel lines and fine details i was pressing back softer, more diffuse areas to create highlights and white areas, having to remember that if i scratched in lines accidentally with the burnisher it would create black areas. The imagined mountain image that resulted has a spidery, webby feel, with soft candyfloss peaks and strange rounded hollows.

one of five prints

detail of mezzotint

Now home again with a larger copper plate, i'm looking forward to making a second mezzotint, this time considering the plate proportion more and using my little bit of knowledge gained from my first attempt!