Printmaking: Aquatint

Printmaking: Aquatint

The last session at the print studio was focused on aquatint.

This is an awesome process, where after cleaning, the plate is dusted with powdered rosin. The plate is then warmed, allowing the dust to melt, leaving the surface dotted with micro drops of acid resistant material.The metal is backed with packing tape before going into the acid bath for as long as we want our result to be dark.

In my experiment, I used a plate previously etched with hard ground. I saved some areas before applying the powder, using a methyl based varnish, as I wanted to keep them smooth. The first immersion lasted only thirty seconds.After that I covered a larger area with the varnish and continued to etch the rest of the plate for about 6 minutes in total. Once done that, the plate was cleaned and I started printing out.

I was really disappointed by my first print, in fact I thought I messed up everything as the image was barely readable!

But then under the tutor’s advice, I start working on the plate with various instruments to bring out the image as I wanted. I mostly used a burnisher, some steel wool and a pointed tool. I kept printing to see where my retouching was working and only after four prints I started to see what I wanted.

It was quite hard and I felt discouraged in the beginning, but in the end I think the mistakes made me learn much more than the smoother experiences I had in the previous days.

Here my prints, from the first one on top left to the fourth on bottom right:


And the last one, still not perfect (also due to an inking mess!) but much clearer:



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