Hard ground etching: My first plate

Swans

Zinc-Etch-11The aim with this plate is to combine it with my soft ground etched plant material from a few weeks ago, which will be printed as a second layer.

I thought it might be interesting to be looking through the plants to a lake or river, perhaps with ducks or swans.  So, using my beginner’s guide to drawing book, I picked up my pencil.

SwansDuck head and shaping was quite good but I wasn’t sure what to do with the folded wings and the book had a good example of a swan and cygnets that I could learn from, so I went with that.  The images were then regrouped whilst being transferred to tracing paper using a 6B pencil.

My zinc plate was prepared as for the soft ground etching: cleaned, degreased and heated on the hotplate to 90 degrees, then hard wax was applied.  It melted the same way as the soft wax and was then rolled to form a smooth covering.  Hard-zinc-etch-1Once cold it dried to a very hard finish and the traced image could be laid on the surface and put through an etching press (reduced pressure) to transfer the graphite to the wax.

Due to a lighting issue my photo didn’t come out well enough so here is a view of a transfer from a classmate (Cynthia).  Using an etching tool I then proceeded to draw into the wax using the transferred lines as a guide.  Detail not transferred was added as the etching evolved.  My design is quite detail-specific and it was surprisingly difficult to see where to etch as the light played over the golden surface of the waxed zinc.

Once complete, the plate was immersed in a nitric acid & water solution (ratio 1:8) for several minutes, checking from time to time and wafting with a feather to remove bubbles, for the design to be bitten into the plate.  When satisfied, I dissolved the remaining wax, cleaned the plate and took a proof print.

Hard-zinc-etch-2An excellent start for this design.  The next stage will be aquatint and masking, followed by water bite and spit bite background sections to create sky and water effects.

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About Claire B

I'm a passionate printmaker, paper-maker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I've stitched from early childhood and am a perpetual student, loving learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in My Creative Pieces, My prints and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Hard ground etching: My first plate

  1. Nola says:

    Really like your swan!

    • Claire B says:

      Thanks Nola, I’ve just been working on the part of the face that should be dark. It’s coming on.

      • Nola says:

        You will be bringing show and tell next weekend, won’t you? You’ll be able to see one of my untethered ebb and flow works…

        • Claire B says:

          Yes, definitely. I’ve got the next acid layer working on the plate now. A bit more dramatic than anticipated. My swans are entitled ‘Lost at sea’ as it appears they are in the midst of a tornado with swirling waters. Not quite the placid lake I had in mind!

          • Nola says:

            That’s one of the reasons I love printmaking in all its forms. You just never quite know how it’s going to turn out!

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