Thursday, January 09, 2014

The pull of the print - take two!

In my first post about questing for the perfect printmaking technique for my geology drawing inspired images, I described all my requirements in a print. (read the first post here) They were pretty straightforward.

And you saw a YouTube video of an etching method that was, quite literally, child's play.

Well.... things in art never quite go to plan!

So here's an update of the printing adventures so far. First, the metal acid etching.

Oooh, pretty acid. (Ferric chloride)

The metal plates with images. They are, from top left clockwise:
1. Laserprint (text) on copper
2. Laser print (of drawing) on aluminium
3. Sharpie drawing on copper
4. Sharpie drawing on aluminium

The metal after neutralising, but not entirely cleaned off. 
Clean aluminium plate! (The other way etched entirely away.)

Clean copper plate! (the other one I didn't complete as the copper took waaaaaay too long)

 Not being at all happy with the depth (copper) or sharpness of etch (aluminium) in any of these, and with the hazards of the acid etching, I decided to turn to my trusty lino. 

I thought instead of drawings I could do flat fields of colour, emulating the paintings. 

Print table. No photos of the results but they were disappointing and just made me realise that the entire point of printmaking is to do the line inspired work.... all change!

So I googled a bit more and found.... caustic soda etching of lino!

Still an acid/base combo method, but a much more controllable one. 

With the addition of wallpaper paste flakes, this is a gel-like application. Let sit...

I did a few test linos all over to create an "aquatint" effect.

Then a combo of marks with beeswax stick and dripped candle wax as a resist. This one is candle wax, but on the bottom I used an etching needle to draw lines.

And this one is all drawn with a bar of beeswax, so rougher thick lines.

So how did the printing go?

First those metal plates. The copper wasn't deep enough to hold ink well, as I suspect.

The aluminium, on the other hand, made a gorgeous intaglio print! 

The "aquatint" caustic etch was perfect - 5 minutes was fine.

The beeswax made lovely textural lines! Great for a background layer.

And the candlewax was much better at full coverage to protect areas. And look at those etched fine lines! (these were all very messy test prints - ignore excess ink, etc.)

I can't quite describe how thrilled I am with these lines!!!

So right now the method I never even knew existed may be the one I turn to. But there are still more things to try. Jo (Oakley, whose press I used) showed me one of her screenprints and thought I should try that to get fine drawn lines. I also still want to try the polymer photo etching method too.

So 3 methods down. 2 to go. (Maybe more if I find anything else.)

Because I have a specific goal in mind - I'm not printmaking just to have prints of any kind - I'm willing to take it slow and easy. Steady experimentation.

See the coast paintings


MT McClanahan said...

Ok so now I've got to do some printmaking! Enthusiasm is contagious.

Philip Hartigan said...


Great posts, and really beautiful images. I'm a printmaker, too, experimenting with caustic soda lino etch. I keep having mixed results with the depth of the etch, though. Could you tell me: a) what sort of lino you use? b) do you clean the block before adding the resist, and if so, how? c) what's the exact ratio of caustic soda to wallpaper paste that you mix together? Link showing one of my successful prints:

Philip Hartigan said...

Dear Tina, Great post, and beautiful prints. I'm also a printmaker, experimenting with caustic soda lino etch. But I've had mixed results so far with the depth of the etch. Caould you tell me: a) what sort of lino you're using? b) do you clean it or treat it before adding the resist? c) what's the exact mixture of soda to wallpaper paste that you use? Here is a blog post showing one of my successful version of this method:

Tina Mammoser said...

Hi Philip! My lino is normal brown/gray stuff - the rather hard cheap lino. I do use sandpaper to abrade the whole surface, just a habit left over from carving days, because I liked a solid black print and it holds more ink that way. Hadn't thought that it might help the caustic too. I don't clean it in any way. And I don't do an exact ratio I'm afraid!

I followed the instructions in the link at the end of this post: There's also much better photos of the whole process I did on that post. But I'm fairly liberal with the caustic soda and don't measure it. It's probably about 2:1 caustic to paste, but possibly even 3:1.

Like you, I tried stop out too but found it was etched through too easily so prefer the wax. I want my images a bit more organic on the edges but still quite solid.

I just finished some screenprinting sessions and will probably combine that with the caustic etched lino. Not sure! Still experimenting. :)

Philip Hartigan said...

Thanks for the advice. I'm starting to think that the problem may be with the wallpaper paste flakes I bought. Maybe they're too thick, and causing the mixture to etch too slowly. On the other hand, I've tried pouring an almost straight mixture of caustic soda and water directly onto the lino, which seemed to work, but still didn't leave as high a relief surface as you achieved. Trial and error, I guess...

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