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(temporarily) back to etching…

Today was my third (and final)
“safe etching” workshop that I
did at Tiger Lily Press.
It was a brief introduction to the
saline-sulfate solution used to etch
zinc plates. You can find info
on the technique here.
I haven’t done an etching in
about 3 – 4 years, but the workshops
got me interested in getting back into it.
Besides I need to know how to use
this technique in order to teach it!
I’ve chosen the old-fashioned
“sugar lift” (sometimes called lift ground)
method to make my image. It’s
been 30 years since I tried it.
It’s ridiculously tedious
and time consuming I have to say.
This is the plate after etching
four times at timed intervals.
Beginning with 1 1/2 minutes and
up to 3 minutes.
After applying a rosin aquatint, I begin to
paint on the sugar lift solution for the next etch.
There are numerous recipes for it, but all include
sugar, water and india ink. Mine has a
bit of liquid soap and gum arabic added.
Once completed, the solution
needs to dry thoroughly.
Then a thin layer of hard ground is applied
to cover the entire plate and dried.
Now the fun part…
The plate is placed in a sink
of hot water…and then I wait.
This part takes hours and hours of time.
The point is that the hot water will
be absorbed by the sugar solution
and begin to lift off the hard ground,
thus exposing the aquatint underneath.
It works, but it requires constant water
changes to keep it hot enough. I also have
to use a brush to gently
help remove the ground. The drawback to
brushing is that it’s very easy to
scrape off the delicate rosin.
(which I’ve already done)
This is the plate once
the sugar lift has been totally removed.
I etched this stage today,
but haven’t pulled a proof yet.
I can tell that I have some foul biting
in places, but I thought I’d etch at least one more time
and then print the plate
to see exactly what I have.
I can always go back and make
corrections with line etching
or drypoint as needed.
25 Mar 2012

continuing on with color……

Since my last post on this color woodblock,
I’ve been steadily overprinting
with pale washes of color to warm up
the flesh tones. Although my
selections of reds are limited and
the ones I’m using aren’t exactly the
correct shades, but I’m
making do with what I have on hand.
One thing I really like about using multiple
blocks is the ability to print
numerous colors one right after the other.
What a time saver!
This weekend I’ve printed four times already.
The last was using this block to start
building up some of the shadows in the face.
I used the same pale blue-gray as the background.
At this point it doesn’t register as blue,
but I’ll plan on cautiously overprinting
the same area until it
gets to where I want it.
The background, shirt, tie & vest
are “on hold” for now until the face is done.
Then I’ll have a better idea
what direction those areas
will go in.
18 Mar 2012

color woodblock printing

I’ve ventured into scary territory….color woodblock printing!
My last attempt at any sort of color printmaking
was at least 30 years ago. Back then I
tried color lithography & etching,
 everything I did was a dismal dud.
So it was B&W only from that point onward.
But this year I wanted to try explore new areas
of printmaking. Not only is this my first
color woodblock print, but also the first multi block one.
It started with a master sketch and
separate color break downs. It wasn’t long
before I threw all of that aside, too tedious
and time consuming, and decided to
just “wing it” and see what happened.
I have two 14″ X 14″ blocks and
am using both sides of each. The reduction
process is pretty comfortable for me
so I’m using that technique as much
as possible.
After trying some dry pigments (not
successful for me), I settled on using gouache.
So far, I think I’ve printed 18 times.
I’m being very safe and either watering down,
or muting every color I use.
Consequently my image looks flat at the moment.
Luckily I have plenty of
wood left so I intend on continuing
to overprint to beef up the image.
Plus, I’ve made some ridiculous carving blunders,
and I hope to correct those as well.
4 Mar 2012