The Absinthe Table

This week I experimented with hard and soft ground.  Here is “The Absinthe Table”, etching on copper plate.

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It’s based on a sketch I made at the Hotel de France, Vaud, Switzerland. They have a collection of absinthes for tasting.

Walking on the way to the print studio I decided I would do two colours. Furthermore, I thought that the second colour, with black, should be green, as absinthe is sometimes called the “la fée verte”. Rooting about in the leftovers box at the Print Studio I found some green ink.

The long process of making the plates took all morning. I watched the rain fall into the canal. Perhaps some of this atmosphere went into the print. Making a two-colour print means:

  1. placing the colour-ink plate on the press.
  2. roll over until the plate is out but the paper is trapped under the press roller
  3. lift the press blankets and remove the plate without shifting the paper or the template
  4. get the black-inked plate
  5. put that plate very carefully in the same place on the template
  6. replace the press blankets and roll back over

The potential for error is great. The most obvious error is to put the second plate in up-side-down.

I printed the plates in the afternoon. The error that happened first time round was that the green ink didn’t print at all. Not a dot. Examining the tube very carefully, reading the writing between the splodges on the tube, I saw that it was “block-printing ink”. Lesson: block printing ink does not work for etching/intaglio process. OK.

This is why the background is brown, using the Charbonnel etching ink which I had brought with me. This is very reliable, but is brown not green.

Here is the single colour black, one plate in hard and soft ground.

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Here is an out-take, the very first print of this series. The bottles are in hard-ground only, and the registration is totally off. But perhaps that weird dislocation is appropriate for a picture of an absinthe table.

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Here’s a sketch of the absinthe table from February this year:

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4 thoughts on “The Absinthe Table”

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment Sue. It’s good to hear that my work gives pleasure – I’m so glad. Thank you for visiting my website and for commenting – and for the Vermont idea! Much appreciated.

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  1. Jane, you made a wonderful kind of a series of an absinthe table. Absinthe always has a mysterious ‘air’ to me, sort of magic. Thank you for your story with your pictures!! 😚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Francisca and thank you for your comment. It’s great to hear from you. Absinthe has all sorts of connotations – it was banned in Switzerland in 1906 and only legalised again in 2004, which makes it slightly edgy. There are also links to Ernest Hemingway, Picasso (https://www.arthermitage.org/Pablo-Picasso/Absinthe-Drinker.html). It certainly has a mysterious and somewhat sinister reputation. The ceremony is special – you drip cold water through a sugar cube into the glass of absinthe, which is very bitter. The “fountain” for this purpose is shown in my pictures, you see the little taps.
      I have tried it, but frankly I prefer a glass of the excellent local wine.

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