Monday, November 18, 2013

A little bit more on printmaking

This week I posted about etching, drypoint, linocut, and woodcut as methods for making durable, quality prints by hand. I also experimented recently with "soft ground" etching, which delighted me by producing a print that looks like a drawing.

"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.

3 comments:

Janet Smarr said...

The print came out higher contrast than the original drawing. Maybe adjusting the paper and ink would produce a print more like the original drawing, which I still like the best.

Janet Smarr said...

The print came out higher contrast than the original drawing. Maybe adjusting the paper and ink would produce a print more like the original drawing, which I still like the best.

Carol Lambert said...

Hi Janet, thanks for the comment. Yes you are right that the print is much less delicate than the drawing. This was my first soft ground, which I did in my last few hours in the print studio, so I didn't have an opportunity to experiment further. What you see here is the result of probably 5 minutes too long in the acid bath. It will take me a bit more tinkering time to figure out what effects I can get with different exposures. I also want to see what kind of line I can get if I use a ballpoint pen rather than a pencil to press lines into the ground. That is what excites me about printmaking, there are so many experiments to do, each will lead to a discovery of some kind, and will increase my understanding of the process.