For those of you who follow my blog (Dad!) I was very very excited about learning more about etching. This is a technique that I had never tried. It always seemed so mysterious and in many ways it still is. Sadly, our instructor didn’t bring the necessary supplies for us to try acid-based etching with the zinc plates she had us buy (aaargh). Nonetheless, I loved learning how to do drypoint etching on Plexiglas – and was happy to “upcycle” the Plexiglas that I will never again use for monotypes.
Drypoint is really quite simple. A bit of patience and the right tools is all you really need. And no particular talent for drawing, which for me, is a bonus. Using a whistler’s needle, you simply scratch your image onto the Plexiglas plate. Then ink it up and print it. Done. Okay, you want to be careful in cleaning the plates to preserve the burr you are creating because that is what holds the ink. And the whole inking up process is quite a bit more involved. And scratching can be tricky. At any rate, some beautiful examples and tutorials can be found here.
The first one I did, I chose a simple (ha!) pattern of Jacobean embroidery from a needlework book that I took with me. I literally traced it. This was a great way to practice with the needle, and to experiment with small areas of black.
The second method involved using a wood burning tool. I had no idea what to expect. In fact, the first print was completely NOT what I expected. It was better. And the ghost was even better. I ran a bunch of these using oil-based ink (which I hate) then cleaned my plate with paint thinner (which I hate even more). While cleaning my plate it broke in half. Nooooooo. But undeterred, and egged on by my friend Colleen, I continued to use the plate until it was in several pieces (using water-soluble etching inks). I really believe that my prints got better as I moved on and as the plate deteriorated. I love all of them so much.