Printmaking Methods.
Stacks Image 125
Before I describe the techniques I have used in my work I would like to explain the basics of printing.
Intaglio Printing
Ink is pushed
into marks and lines which are either etched or engaved on the plate and then printed by press.
Relief Printing
Ink is rolled, dabbed or painted
on the surface of a block which is then printed manually or by printing press.
The techniques I have used in my work are as follows.
Etching Aquatint - Intaglio Printing
First I roll a thin layer of wax over the metal plate. This is called a softground. Then I trace my image in the softground, it is like a soft wax so it is easy to draw on. With this method I can get quite detailed drawings on the plate.
Once my drawing is traced, I put my plate in an acid bath. My drawing will be exposed to the acid but the rest of the plate is protected by the wax.Then, when I take the plate out of the acid, I clean the wax off the plate with white spirit.I can now print my first proof. At this stage I have only a line drawing.
The next step is to create solid areas of tone on my etching plate.This can range from a white to very dark depending on how long you leave it in the acid.This is called Aquatint.
An Aquatint tone is achieved by first coating the whole plate with resin dust which is heated with a small blowtorch underneath, causing the resin to melt into tiny globules. When it cools down the resin will harden. I now want to create different gradations of tone from white to very dark.To achieve these, I begin to "stop out" the parts on my plate which I want to keep white and put the plate for a few seconds in the acid which causes all the unstopped areas to be the next darker tone. Then I "stop out" with varnish also the next lighter area and continue the process of dipping the plate in acid through succesive stages to achieve further tones which get darker and darker at each stage as a result of longer exposure. The longer you keep it in the acid the deeper the bite and therefore the darker the tone on the print will be. My darkest bite will be around 8 minutes.
When this process is complete, you have to clean the plate for printing.To remove the varnish you use white spirit and to remove the resin you use methylated spirit. Then when the etching plate is ready for printing I have to ink up the plate, wipe off the excess ink from the surface with scrim (a cloth) and put the plate on the press.On top of the inked up plate I  have to put slightly damp paper. Then I roll it through the press.
In some of my etchings I have used Chine Cole. Before I make a print. I put japanese paper with some starch emulsion on top of my inked up plate and under the paper and then I roll it through the press, all at the the same time. The Japanese paper can add a diffirent colour to the print and it can give an extra texture to it as well.
My editions off my etching plates can be up to 50.