Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Monday, 22 October 2018

Etching with a Laser Assist

Darren and I coated a copper plate with black spray paint, and cut off the paint with the laser cutter at QueLab hackerspace in Albuquerque.

The drawing cutting off the black spray paint,
at full power on the laser cutter 
(in about 20 minutes)

After the laser cutting

The idea is to etch the image into the copper plate, by submerging it in Ferric Chloride (for at least 30 minutes), and then making fine art etching prints from the etched copper plate.

This is not unlike making a circuit board.

Note: that after the high resolution drawing (181) was downloaded, it was "flipped" horizontally with XnView (or any other digital program), before being sent to the laser cutter.  That is because when the plate is etched and inked, it will print a reverse image on paper.

By flipping it first digitally, we will be able to print the image in the same orientation as it is in my book.  If we were etching and printing words, they would come out backwards in the final print, if we did not "flip" them horizontally first.

to the extraneous scratches on the spray paint,
so that they would not etch

After 30 minutes of etching
in ferric chloride

After  30 minutes of etching,
in a bath of ferric chloride

The proof print
on the press bed

The proof print is somewhat unexpected.  I did not take off the spray paint ground before printing, which probably accounts for the grey plate tone.  The spray painted surface has a matte texture, that did not wipe off well with the tarlatan wiping rag.

The actual lines of the figure however, were much lighter than I anticipated.  Perhaps the lines are too thick, and therefore did not hold the ink tightly, when the plate was wiped with the tarlatan rag.

The first proof print

Later we took the black spray paint off the copper plate (easily, with EZ Strip), and Manuel Guerra made a proper proof on good paper, at his studio in El Paso.  The 8 inch plate fit nicely and printed well, on the small Conrad press.

Cleaned plate 
and proof on nice paper

Next experiment, electro-etching at QueLab.  We tried this once, and it seemed to have worked, but it was messy.

Next time Adric suggested that we use vinegar as the electrolyte.

UPDATE (Nov 3, 2018):  I tried to laser etch a more complicated drawing from my book (drawing 150), attempting the same method as above, however it did not come out as nice.  We altered the image in XnView -- image/Convert to Binary/Binary(Pattern)  -- to simplify it, but the background etched, and the weaker gray lines got darker, blurring out all the detail in the neck, for instance.

Not too clean
laser etching through the black spray paint
on a copper plate

However, after some finesse, 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

October 20, 2018

Drawn in the Argos Gallery of Santa Fe:

Newsprint drawing on top of the soft grounds

I epic failed trying to make a soft ground etching from a figure drawing, like I did last December (2017).  I prepared the copper plate with B.I.G. grounds the night before at Remarque/New Grounds Print Workshop in Albuquerque.  Then I drew the figure on the wet plate the next day at Argos in Santa Fe.  However, the palm of my hand rubbed against the newsprint, and that probably injured the plate drawing.  I should have drawn using a bridge, or a mahl stick, to lift my hand off the plate.

Disaster --
the soft ground plate
after 45 minutes of drawing

Note:  The next day I tried to roll the brayer over the plate, so that I could try the soft ground process again.  However, the BIG ground was already too dry to spread out the grounds.   Perhaps if I brayer over my bad plate immediately, I could have tried again.  As it is, I didn't sacrifice the copper plate -- I just have to take the dried old ground off, and reapply a soft ground.

BIG grounds
copper plate

First I coated the newsprint paper

Then I put the coated side of the newsprint
onto the copper plate,
and rolled the brayer on top, 
transferring the BIG grounds to the copper plate

When I peeled off the newsprint, 
the soft grounds layer was thin enough,
but not smooth --
notice the copper speckles peeking through

I then ran the brayer on top of the freshly coated copper plate,
and managed to cover the whole copper plate
with a smooth thin layer

I taped a piece of newsprint on top
of the coated copper plate,
and drew from the live model

The drawing proceeded nicely

And the drawing did pull off the soft ground,
exposing the copper for etching -- 
however I believe I rubbed my hand all over the plate,
and that picked a lot of the ground,
turning the paper black,
and making the finished plate unusable


So I switched to watercolor, which I bought at the Southwest Print Fiesta in Silver City earlier in the month.  People keep telling me that I have to use color.

I bought the Arroyo watercolor tin
from the table Wildland Press, 
a project of Blossom Merz,
he is setting up his shop in Madrid, New Mexico

Arroyo color tin
by Wildland Press,
of Madrid, New Mexico

October 18, 2018

Drawn at 3rd Street Arts in Albuquerque: