Friday well spent

Cicada plate, ready for its final etch. The insect was already etched to varying depths, and the pattern will be the lightest area after the surface.

Fume hood. Acid! My tray is to the right, on the top shelf. Mmm, nitric.

Now the pattern is etched, and since I’m not etching it further I can remove the hard ground and clean the plate. After that, it will be ready for inking and printing.

Aaaarghh, I am an ungainly monsterrrrr. I hate wearing gloves. I have poured some paint thinner over the plate and am loosening up the hard ground with a toothbrush.

This part is always so magical for me. Sometimes I really have trouble with carving the hard ground and etching simply because my lights and darks are reversed as I draw (where the hard ground is stays white, and the light areas of exposed steel as I carve away the ground hold ink and print dark), and it’s hard to visualize how all my mid tones will turn out. When the thinner and ground mix and fill in all my etched areas, it’s the first glimpse I have of the lights and darks in their proper places. It’s always really satisfying.

Finished, clean plate!

I was the only one there til about 1:30, so I spread out over the whole side of the table. :D You can kind of make out the dragonfly plate, next to my sketchbook and the cicada. I got the outlines of the butterfly and dragonfly etched and was working on the wing veins when the other person showed up. Unfortunately for me he was etching as well, and the way the glass panes slide on that fume hood make it impossible to work on both sides at once. Too bad.

I didn’t print the cicada yet (project for this week, depending), but I have reservations. There are some marks on the surface that I think will hold ink and be noticeable in the print, and if that’s the case I’ll scrap the plate and re-do it. This time last year, the same event would have sent me into a panic attack. But it occurred to me that I am my own printwoman now– I am on nobody’s schedule but my own, and I no longer have a senior show to produce for (ie kill myself for). That revelation was an incredible moment!! It really lifted a weight off my shoulders. After my very first steel plate, which was rather spontaneous and I didn’t plan out at all, I planned everything, every single plate, extensively because I didn’t have time for screw-ups (they happened anyway, that’s the nature of printmaking). I am thrilled to be able to mess around and experiment, and have fun again!!

I had a little teeny plate that I basically doodled on and etched, which needs at least one more trip to the acid bath, and the other current insects will be time-consuming. I want to get back in there this week, but am not sure how things will work out– I have several thousand cuttings shipping tomorrow, which will be arriving at the greenhouse most likely Wednesday, and which need to be stuck pronto. That might waylay the printing a bit, but in the mean time I am making more Bunny Bags. Please note Bunny Bag the First supervising my work up there on the table.

I’m working simultaneously on two more Etsy find posts as well as feeding my soul to my herb blog. Aaahh so much information…


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