Towers East and Towers West

I continue to work on my “Towers Project”. The idea is to document the towers of Finsbury, Islington and Camden, or at least the ones I can see from my window.

I did a “Skyline” previously which you can see on this link.

Here are two smaller etchings, Towers East and Towers West, both 10.5cm by 15cm. I finished Towers West yesterday.


These two together form a panorama. I used Towers East in a Chine Collé course. See this link.

The two prominent towers at the front are part of a Peabody Estate, the “Roscoe Estate” on Roscoe Street. The one on the left is “Peabody Tower” and the one on the right is “St Mary’s Tower”. The low house at the very front on the left is Fortune House, on Fortune Street. I have drawn Peabody Tower in an urban sketch, see this link.

These etchings are aquatint on copper. Here is work in progress on “Towers West”.


I drew the picture in hard ground using an etching spike, then etched it in acid called “Edinburgh Etch” for 20minutes. The resulting print is shown above on the right.

Then I put resin dust, called Aquatint, on the plate, and set it with a gas burner. I paint varnish on top of the Aquatint, to make the shapes, then dip in acid, then paint more, then dip. Towers West is 6 dips. The sky is a technique called “spit bite”: I just paint the acid on, wait 20 seconds, and wash it off.

Here’s the copper plate for Towers West:

IMG_2026 - Towers West Plate
Towers West, copper plate

Chine Collé workshop

Here is a gallery of prints I made yesterday, experimenting with a technique called “Chine Collé” – thin paper glued. The idea is to introduce colour, by using a thin piece of paper which is sandwiched between the printing paper (white) and the inked copper plate.

This was a workshop led by Damien Grist at East London Printmakers. I used plates I’d made previously.

My favourite print is this one, based on my “Towers East” plate:

“Edge of the City” – chine collé

Here are other examples. Each print is unique.


Here’s what I learned:

  • The glue that’s used to fasten the thin paper is wallpaper paste. This is wet, and allows the thin paper to shrink as the assembly dries. It also contains fungicides. Traditionally, Japanese printmakers use rice glue.
  • The thin paper doesn’t take the ink as well as the white print paper. So sometimes the image is disrupted.
  • This is a fast technique for adding colour. And it’s fun: the result is a bit of a surprise.
  • Japanese printmakers use “Gampi” paper for Chine Collé. Tissue paper is an alternative. Newsprint works quite well, and also takes the black ink well.

Towers of North London

I have a project to draw all the towers I can see from my window. These are the towers of Finsbury, Hackney and Camden in North London.

To identify the Towers, I made an etching of the sky line. This is the view from my window. I look North.


This is an aquatint, made at East London Printmakers. Later I am going to put all the names on.

Here’s an earlier stage of the same picture.  This is the hard ground etching.


This is Charbonnel Doux printing ink on Fabriano Unica Printing Paper from Great Art. Copper plate etched in Edinburgh etch for 25 minutes.