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Intention of Methodology Series: Printmaking - Etching


The nature of printmaking relates strongly to several keywords such as construct, transformation, balance, shape/form, line and time. Also, I perceive the physical process in printmaking as a metaphor for the creation of man-made structures.

Copper and aluminium are substantial materials in construction. The physical characteristics of the materials emphasizes the existence of shape and form as an entity. Sugarlift and aquatint are the two main techniques that I have chosen to use to realize and support my intention of investigating my subject matter in a more physical manner.

Application of Sugarlift onto copper

Sugarlift is a technique where boiled sugar is painted onto a degreased etching plate. The sugar is left to dry and a hard wax ground is rolled onto the plate. The plate is then submerged into hot water to allow the sugar to lift off from the plate leaving the painted area being exposed as bare copper to allow the acid to etch through. The notion of marking out sections on copper resembles how one marks out sections of land and the process of lifting the sugar solution to allow me to work on exposed sections on the copper mirrors how one constructs and assemble a structure on a piece of land.

Sugarlift mixture removed with luke-warm water

Aquatint is a process where fine rosin particles are applied evenly onto a degreased etching plate. The particles are then melted onto the heated plate. The melted rosin particles act as a resistant to the acid and create a textured surface on the plate. This enables the artist to achieve tonal effects depending on the duration of the plate being submerged in the acid. Tonal effects are achieved by applying acid resistant grounds on desired areas and submerging the plate in specific time durations. The notion of stopping out sections to create different tones and working on the image in multiple stages and layers influenced by time reflects the construction process of a man-made structure.

Printing plate coated with aquatint rosin

Plate in the process of being inked up

Print being produced on paper

Technical Breakdown:

Mordant: Ferric Chloride (FeCl3)

Ground: Rhind's Ball Ground (Hard)

Sugarlift: 1:1 Sugar and Water + Black gouache

Ink: Charbonnel 55985 Strong Black

Paper: 350gsm German Etching Paper (Acid Free)

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