If all else fails, attack with pointy tool!

This is in the way of a progress report. I rather feared this was going to happen: I made some prints from my recent Medusa etching plate – the drinks party one, for December – and I’m a bit underwhelmed by them.

First print from 'Is she or isn't she' - Medusa at a drinks party
First print from ‘Is she or isn’t she’ – Medusa at a drinks party

Humph. Knew it. In trying to preserve the original line drawing I have a print that is kind of… boring. Lacking both in the ‘drawing’ quality of a proper line drawing or any real lights and darks to bring it out of itself. It’s possible that this particular composition might be better as a painting, but, this being a series of 12 etchings for next year’s all-etching calendar, it shall be an etching!

Here is the second print. I burnished the highlights on the plate this time, but that has made only minimal difference because it’s really the dark tones that are lacking. Nope, still not doing much for me!

Second etching print with minimal improvement
Second etching print with minimal improvement

And the third print where I have selectively cleaned the plate up, and left some ink on the rest of it:

Third print. Now enough is enough and it's time to wield the pointy tool again
Third print. Now enough is enough and it’s time to wield the pointy tool again

So, what to do? If all else fails, attack with a sharp instrument! Here is a part of the aluminium plate now:

Detail of the drypoint over the original etched plate
Detail of the drypoint over the original etched plate

The fine lines catching the light are a lot of scratches I have added to the surface. Technically speaking this is ‘drypoint’. It is not etching and neither is it real engraving, it is merely scratching the metal surface, which results in a grove in the metal with a ‘burr’ (raised bit) either side. It will produce a much less clean line than the original etched lines, or an engraved line, because it is the burr that will hold ink. And it’s not a surface that will last long at all in printing, especially on an aluminium plate, but it’s worth a try! Besides, I was wondering how drypoint would work out for me, so now is a chance to find out. It’s a technique I have shied away from before because I cannot do cross-hatching: it just does not work out for me, or at least I hate the effect it produces when I see it in my drawings, and of course cross-hatching does lend itself to a technique that is basically creating a drawing out of scratches. However, I am managing to create a texture of scribbles instead.

I am hoping this will add texture and weight to the image, but I’ve no real idea of how it will look until I have printed it. It’s probably one of those things: fine scratches don’t show up well on a printing plate unless they are fine scratches that you do not want…

… so, until next week then!

Bleedin’ long waiting game sometimes, this etching business!

Detail of the plate now with a lot of drypoint added
Detail of the plate now with a lot of drypoint added

13 Comments

  1. oooh tense. I’ve been getting into Intaglio Printmaker’s paper drypoint plates – they’re dead cheap and you cna go to town scribbling away on them. Because they’re cheap, it’s much less inhibiting.

    1. I was thinking of your paper plates as i wrote this Rosie! Aluminium is pretty cheap, though – at least, the cost of the aluminium is a very small part of the cost compared to studio time and the cost of the paper I print on! I like the idea of using paper, though…

  2. […] « Previous / Next » By Nancy Farmer / January 31, 2013 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment […]

  3. Your engravings are amazing! I liked it!

    1. Thanks! technically it’s drypoint as I don’t have the skill for proper engraving, but thanks 🙂

      1. You have, I studied it!

        1. Ah well then thank you! but suffice it to say that I haven’t actually tried it…

        2. continuous:…and I know so many of my collegues who finished Academy and had less skills than you!

          1. thanks! I do have a degree in Jewellery making – me and metals get on ok together 🙂

  4. continuos: ….and I know so many of my collegues that finished Academy and they had less skills than you!

  5. ssomething was wrong with my comp — so many comments!

    1. Ha ha, it’s ok, just makes my post look popular!

      1. OK than! Feel free to come on my page than’1
        (:

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