Friday, March 8, 2013

Aquatint Part II

Dry point needles and burnisher/scraper

Yesterday we talked about preparing the copper plate for engraving with a stylus.  Above are the main tools of the beginning engraving artist.  The first two are drypoint needles which can also be used to draw through the waxy varnish we have put onto the plate.  

For the first drawing on the plate I simply want to outline my drawing, there will be no shading involved. 

1.) Acid bath: 
Once I have the main drawing on the plate I am ready to put it into the acid bath for 6-10 minutes.   

a.) Checking the bite:
I check with a magnifying glass to see if the plate is sufficiently "bitten", if not I put it back in the acid.

c. ) Removing varnish: 
 I rinse the plate in water, dry it and proceed to a ventilated area to remove all of the varnish with "white spirit".  

Rough Sketch of how long I left each area in the acid after "stop out " resin was applied

d. ) Stop out varnishing: 
Now that I have an outline of my intended image I can proceed to cover the area that I wish to leave white in the final product.   In the sketch above, my first tone is #1: white.  This is the area I first cover with "stop out" varnish to prevent the resin from touching it.  

2.) Applying resin:  

a.) Resin cabinet:
With the aid of a bellows and a wooden box full of fine particles of resin,  I am able to disperse  the resin and then quickly insert the plate and let the particles fall on its surface. These particles will  later hold the ink.  I leave the plate in the closed cabinet for 5-10 minutes depending how fine or heavy I want the layer. 

b.) Fixing the resine: 
The old method was to burn the bottom of the plate with a candle to fix the particles but because of safety reasons we now use an electric heat gun passed under the plate, an inch away, to melt and fix the resin.  I let the plate cool.  

3.) Acid bath: 
a)  I am now ready to bite and stop out each value on the chart.  I am trying for 6 different shades in the diagram above. For the lightest grey I will put the plate in acid from 3-6 minutes and then "stop out" all of the areas marked with #2.  I will continue alternating acid and varnish for each area five different times. In the last bath, everything is covered with varnish except the blackest area.   
When I have done this five times the last uncovered area will have been in the acid for 15-25 minutes so that will be the darkest area.    

Next post will be the first print of my image.  This technique "grows on you".  If it weren't for the moments when I get it right, "la belle surprise" I don't think I would keep doing it.  Like most things, it requires rigorous discipline to get it right. 

1 comment:

  1. Rigorous discipline, yes! Thanks for the step-by-step guide.