Printing ‘The Spiky Cat’…
I promised this post was coming! While I was making the printing plate in the previous post it occurred to me that the mezzotint rocker – the tool that is used to put the texture on the plate first, produces a rather interesting line which might be reminiscent of the spiky hairiness of cats just on its own. The individual lines made by this tool aren’t usually seen in the final print – the idea is to ‘rock’ all over the plate in 8 different directions until you have an even texture of burrs and pock-marks, which are then worked into to create the image with a burnisher (see this post)
So, the print below is not how mezzotint should be done. In fact I’m not sure that I should even call this print a mezzotint print: the word means ‘half-tone’ and refers to the fact that a mezzotint print is all tone and no line, as opposed to engraving, which is all lines. This print is all spiky line: I ‘drew’ a cat with the mezzotint rocker, which is not really what you’re supposed to do. A little experiment…
First here is the quick sketch I did to work from – straight onto the aluminium plate:
The ‘Rocker’ makes lines like this (below) – very cat-like, if they can be controlled into a sort of image:
The photo below shows the mezzotint rocker itself – it is so-called because you rock the toothed blade from side-to-side to produce the marks in the metal. The way it moves is very much like one of those herb choppers, but with teeth:
Carrying on with my cat-hairiness:
And at this point (below) I wanted to see what I I had achieved so far. I do intend to work into the plate with a burnisher (adding lighter tones in what will be the black areas) but I needed to see what I had already done. So here I stopped and printed from the plate:
Preparing the plate for printing – the surface is covered in ink, and the excess ink wiped off, just the right amount to leave ink in all the little recessed pock-marks I have made with the rocker:
The moment of truth – what does the print actually look like?
And my finished print:
I hadn’t actually intended that this would be finished at all, but I rather liked this spiky little creature, so I took a few prints of him how he is at the moment. I shall work into the plate some more, but once I make changes to it there’s no going back, so I have a few prints now in hand.
Below I also tried painting the eyes in. I am in two minds as to how well this works, since the eyes are actually brighter left white. So, until a fortnight’s time (no etching next week – it’s half term), this is my experiment so far…