(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.