The Towers are St Mary’s Tower and Peabody Tower, just to the North of the Barbican.
I made 14 reasonable prints, and 2 out-takes. I glued the out-takes into my notebook. I make one page per print session, and record what I did, what paper and ink I used, what worked and what didn’t. This is in an attempt to learn and improve my printing technique.
Here are the 14 reasonable prints, numbered 1 to 14. Numbers 1-13 are on card 20cm by 30cm. This card size is intended as a greeting card. When folded it fits neatly into an A5 envelope. Number 14 is on larger paper. All are for sale, £5 each plus postage. Please contact me by email via the contacts page, or leave a comment on this page. The red writing is on the online image here, not on the print.
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These are all part of my “Towers Project” leading to an exhibition in the Barbican Library February 2019.
I work in the print studio at East London Printmakers. Prints are on Fabriano Unica Paper, using Intaglio Printmaker Bone Black ink. They are printed by hand on the Henderson press. Each print takes about half an hour to print.
They are all for sale! Please let me know if you would like to buy one. All are printed on etching paper “Fabriano Unica”. They are intended to be used as greetings cards. So the print is to the side like this:
They fold in half to make a greeting card which fits in a C5 envelope.
Folded to make A5 card
Folded to make A5 card
Fits in C5 envelope
Fits in C5 envelope
Equally they can be folded in half or cut, and put in a frame size A5.
If you’d like to buy one, please contact me, and say which one you’d like. They are numbered – click the images in the gallery above. £5 each + postage. These are handmade items by me, an amateur printer. Thumb marks, imperfections, ink smudges and other defects reflect the handmade nature of the items and, as they say, “should not be regarded as defects”.
This was an aquatint with 6 tones, which is about the maximum I can achieve. On the 4th and 5th dip it’s difficult to see what I’m doing.
These pictures are postcard-size, with the intention of making cards.
Here’s the test plate print.
I’m in the question about whether the aquatint needs more work. I thought it did when I first saw it, but now I’m not so sure. It isn’t as dark as the photo looks. Comments welcome.
Aquatint and test plate on Khadi handmade paper. Hard ground print on handmade paper from Paperchase. Printing done at East London Printmakers. Ink is Intaglio Printmaker “Shop Mix Bone Black” from a tube. Etching on 10cm x 15cm copper plate using Edinburgh Etch.
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:
placing the colour-ink plate on the press.
roll over until the plate is out but the paper is trapped under the press roller
lift the press blankets and remove the plate without shifting the paper or the template
get the black-inked plate
put that plate very carefully in the same place on the template
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.
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.
Here’s a sketch of the absinthe table from February this year:
This is a post-card sized etching on copper plate, printed by the technique called Chine collé. Japanese paper is the coloured background, and is printed and glued to Fabriano Unica, all in one process. It’s a bit tricky, but gives a good result, I think. The Japanese paper takes the ink very well, and provides the coloured background.
The plate is made using a hard-ground etch, then aquatint. Hard-ground etch means I put a varnish on the plate, then draw the picture in the varnish, so revealing lines of bare copper. Then I dip the plate in acid for 20 minutes. The acid attacks the bare copper and makes lines. Then if I print it, it looks like this:
The next stage is aquatint, to make the tones. Aquatint is nothing to do with water, and nothing to do with colour. The name is misleading. The plate goes in a box, where I’ve turned a handle to make clouds of fine rosin. The rosin drops on the plate like rain. Then it’s annealed with a gas burner. Now there are lots of tiny dots in a random pattern on the plate. The skill now is to paint and dip the plate, so as to get the tones. The longer the plate stays in the acid, the blacker the tone. But if you leave it too long the acid bites off all the dots and the tone is light again.
The picture has 5 tones and plate tone. The darkest tone was in the acid for 4 minutes.