Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Nourish Series: The Process Begins

I'm not sure if it's boiling down to getting older, but I have taken quite an interest in caring for myself and others lately. The garden looks great so far! We still have one more section to turn over, but there's no real rush for that yet. The energy continues to be vibrant in the yard and that's why I've spent some time either in the back or on the porch. I wanted to freeze this whole experiment in time somehow so I just started sketching these little doodle vegetables and they've turned into this big project!

The etching process is still in early phases (bevel and degrease).  I've beveled the edges of my copper plates already and tonight I am degreasing them and applying my hard ground.  Allow me to explain:

Printmakers bevel the edges of any hard plate, whether it be copper, zinc, aluminum, or even acrylic (at least they should). This is done for two reasons: One, it prevents the plate from cutting through the paper and blankets when it goes through the press.  There is A LOT of pressure when running it through the press, therefore the plates' edges can be sharp. Secondly, it gives the drum of the press a little help getting on to the plate while the press bed is moving underneath it. I liken it to a gymnast jumping onto the springboard to help them get up onto the balance beam.
Beveling a plate.
Degreasing a plate just means that any type of grease or oil, even the oil from your fingertips, needs to be removed in order for the hard ground to stick to the plate properly.  All you really need for this is some whiting (calcium carbonate) or Comet.  After this step is applying the hard ground.
Degreasing a copper plate with Whiting.
Note: There is another step in between beveling and degreasing and that is polishing.  I don't prefer to do this step.  Some printmakers like the shiny, smooth surface because it leaves no plate tone on the print, but I actually like the marks of the plate.  Tiny hair scratches or dotted marks bring an interesting aesthetic to the final print, at least in my opinion. So I skip it.

I'm not quite ready to transfer the image to the plate yet, but I will keep you updated on that process as well as the actual etching process.  More to come...