The Cheesegrater, etching

Yesterday I did an etching based on a sketch I made of the Cheesegrater and St Katharine Cree.

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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:

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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.

Here is the plate being inked up:

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I did the printing on the Henderson press at East London Printmakers.

The Cheesegrater from the East

I have previously drawn the Cheesegrater from Threadneedle Street. Today I went to find a good view from the East. I was keen to include the ancient church of St Katharine Cree.

Here is the Cheesegrater from Leadenhall, just east of Creechurch Lane.

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The current building of St Katharine Cree is 1633. The tower that I’ve drawn is from 1504. Parts of the church date back to the Mediaeval Priory 1108. This place is a survivor. It survived

  • the Great Fire 1666
  • The Second World War, which damaged the roof
  • the Baltic Exchange bomb, 1992, which blew out the central part of the 17th Century East window.

The Cheesegrater, aka The Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall St, was finished in July 2014. The architects were Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.

Behind, you can just see the cranes for 22 Bishopsgate under construction.

Drawn standing in the street, 1 hour, drawn and coloured on location.