The printmaking process
Images are created on a base "plate" such as aluminiun, zinc, copper, acetate or lino, using etching or carving tools. Ink is applied to the plate and a print is taken either via a manual printing press or hand-printing tools such as a Japanese baren or a wooden spoon.
Etchings are created by protecting the plate with an acid-proof ground, then scratching through the ground with an etching tool. The plate is then placed in a mordant such as Nitric Acid, Ferric Chloride or Copper Sulphate, which eats away at the metal, creating grooves that will hold ink. Varying the amount of time in the mordant varies the strength of the mark created, and other techniques such as aquatint, sugar lift, spit bite & burnishing can be employed to create a variety of tones and other effects.
Dry point etchings are created by scratching directly onto the plate, using a variety of tools and pressures to vary the marks.
In both processes ink is applied to the finished plate, gently rubbed into the grooves and dents, and the excess ink wiped away. The plate is laid on an etching press, covered with dampened and blotted art paper, a protective layer of paper, then felt blankets, before it is rolled through the press and the image revealed.
In relief or block printing, the ink is rolled onto the surface of the block and the areas that have been carved away do not transfer to the paper.
Some pieces are created as unique states by varying the colours or the way in which the plate is inked, hand colouring the plate before printing (mono print), or hand colouring the paper after printing. The use of collaged papers beneath the printed image also creates unique effects.