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  • Writer's pictureSarah McCartney

Print School inspiration

Had a week printing at John Howard’s studio in Penryn at the end of September. Learnt so much and was very inspired. To find some way of learning printing techniques and of using them in my work has been something I’ve been meaning to do for years. At last I have found a place I can learn and practice and its right on my doorstep. The kingfisher I have been painting and drawing for the last month or so was my immediate choice to try etching and aquatint.

And whist I was doing the etching I had a go at making an image with a piece of etched aluminium. The aluminium plate is put in acid which eats into it to give it a tooth that holds the ink like aquatint. So before I did anything to it this plate printed black. I then brought the image out of the dark by burnishing and scrapping lines into the metal. I love the physical process of etching the metal using acids, then burnishing and scraping away. Getting ideas of using the techniques in my sculpture.

This little one was a plate of zinc which I scored lines into with a sharp tool to make the black. The white of the images was slowly worked out of the dark by scraping and burnishing again. I mostly did it by touch as I couldn’t really see what was happening on the plate very well. So it was a bit magical when it printed as I thought it hadn’t worked. Love the texture. Bit like cloth.

This was another etching using soft ground and aquatint.

Lastly was photo etching. Something I didn’t think I would be interested in but now I have realized what I can do, it might be (for now) the thing I want to go with most. This image was made with two plates. One the image of the urchin, one the text. I am excited by the idea that I can make ‘real’ the images I create digitally by combining and layering my words and pictures. I was making these picture poems in Photoshop long before I could physically make them in resin. With this printing process I can link my sculpture, drawing and writing. Exciting!

urchin heart – photo etching urchin heart – digital image

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