"Soft ground" is a softer version of the "hard ground" wax used for etching. When etching with hard ground, one must use a needle to scratch the image into the hard wax. For this technique, one can press a design into the soft ground with a pencil. One transfers the image by drawing on a piece of newsprint placed over the wax-coated metal plate. The wax will stick to the other side of the paper, leaving a duplicate image on the plate, ready to be exposed to the acid.
I lay this little sketch (based on a drawing I made last summer, at the Kenai River) on top of a plate waxed with soft ground. I went over it with a pencil, pressing my marks into the wax.
When I lifted my drawing off the plate, this image, in wax, appeared on the reverse of my paper:
Wherever the wax stuck to the paper, the plate was exposed. Into the acid bath it went. Then I inked it and ran it through the press with a piece of wet paper. Here is the print:
Now I can make as many of these as I want! Neat, isn't it?
I like this image a lot, but I liked the soft brown of the wax so much I might print it again using a sepia colored ink. I could also hand color the final print with watercolor to give it the Alaska Landscape finishing touch. Mostly, I want to experiment more with this wonderful, simple way to make prints.
Next post, back to oil painting. I am doing some small pieces (6 x 6, 8 x 8) which will be very affordable, especially if bought unframed. Stay tuned, shoppers.