Oh huzzah, I spent some time in my etching studio today! No new plates, but trying to catch up on printing some editions because my print bin is dangerously low for this coming weekend's Plowshares show. The printing process is a bit of a mystery for many people, so I took some photos with the goal of making a little tutorial about old-school etching. I love complicated and obscure and old-fashioned art processes. But it didn't really turn into a fully-functional step-by-step photo essay after all...although I did get a few arty shots to share.
The first step is to ink the plate, squishing the ink down into the etched lines with a plastic mini squeegee thing (sorry, I don't remember the technical term). After the plate is inked, I gently wipe the surface of the plate clean with some stiff cloth, which leaves the ink in the lines to create the image.
This particular piece involves two plates. After they are both inked and wiped, I lay them out on the bed of my beautiful etching press (with a piece of newsprint behind to keep the press bed clean).
I lay a piece of printmaking paper (which has been soaked in water and rolled out with a rolling pin between towels) over the plates, then the blankets go on top for cushioning and better contact. I crank the big flywheel to move the bed between some big rollers, which presses the paper tight to the plates to pick up the ink in the etched lines.
And here is the print being pulled from the plates! Always an exciting moment. Now the prints I pulled this morning are drying between pieces of blotting paper with heavy things on top of them.