Fantastically excited to be starting an etching plate today – 18inches square and working with Katherine and Alfonso. We cut, bevelled, polished and degreased and prepared the plate before the weekend and I had time to plan out a design ready for this morning. First thing, Katherine applied a soft ground and we pressed into the plate, through the press, my cut pieces of styrene and small paper cutouts with a piece of crumpled glassene over. I stopped out several white spaces. We etched the plate for about 3 minutes in ferric chloride, manipulating and moving the plate face up by hand. The soft ground gives the detail of the design beautifully and all over a soft grey tone with random marks from the glassene. Alfonso inked the plate to take a first state proof. It’s great to see new techniques and methods and ways of working. Everything here is done with such excellent care and finesse. Nothing is hurried and all is done well. As examples, the edges of the plate are wiped with a whole toilet roll – simple but brilliant. Then Katherine shows me a technique called ‘retrosage’ where the plate once inked on the hot plate is allowed to cool and when cool, warm inky tarlatan is gently wiped over the plate. The warm ink from the scrim adheres to the now cool plate to highten the blacks slightly – superb.
The plate is printed and an offset taken onto newsprint in case we need to use it for a further softground. Next onto an aquatint to place the darker tones.
The plate with softground
First state proof.