I visited the Hôtel de France, Sainte-Croix in Vaud, Switzerland. Here is the hotel, from the street outside, just after I arrived.
I had to wait in Geneva train station, for the train which goes to Yverdon-les-Bains. The sun came through the windows and people walked through the lighted space.
The Hôtel de France is known for its absinthe.
I sketched the absinthe table. The bottles look like a group of people waiting for something to happen. Like people, the bottles have common basic characteristics, but each has their individual variations.
Glasses, too, have their characters.
I walked down the ancient salt road to the village of Vuitebœuf. Here is the Église de Vuitebœuf from the rue du Culaz, which I afterwards found out is also on the ‘Via Francigena’ pilgrims’ route Canterbury to Rome (1900km).
This church was constructed in 1904 to the design of Charles-François Bonjour.
I travelled back to London late Sunday night, on a crowded ‘plane from Geneva.
From gate B42
Boarding the aircraft
Here are links to previous drawings in Sainte-Croix.
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:
I have been experimenting with pen and ink. Previously, I have used waterproof ink, with watercolour on top. This “pen and wash” technique depends on the ink staying where it’s put. See, for example, the urban sketch on this link.
They are all done using only Robert Oster Signature Fountain Pen Ink, colour: Black Velvet. This ink has the property that is produces a chromatograph effect, blue and pink, as it runs and dilutes with water. See, for example, the left hand side of the “wineglass” drawing, where you see black, blue and pink.
I’m using a dip pen: the Pensive Pens Serendipity dip pen.
All of this is quite a challenge to accomplish, especially as the pictures were done in a Swiss dining room, on white tablecloths. No ink drops contaminated the pristine environment. But I had to be very careful.