Second week in the printmaking studio

drawing worked into hard ground on a copper plate

Here is a picture I took with my phone after working the drawing in the hard ground, then immersing the plate for three ‘bites’ in the acid. This plate will serve as my re-entry to the world and techniques of etching, since it’s been over 7 years since I took my first class, so I didn’t spend a ton of time on it

The way this process works:
1. Coat copper with ‘hard ground’ which is basically a sort of wax
2. Draw into the hard ground, exposing the copper
3. Immerse the plate (carefully, wearing gloves) into a bath of ferric-chloride solution. The longer it is in, the deeper and the acid ‘etches’ your lines into the copper, so they hold more ink.

It’s very similar to the photographic process in that way. So if you want some lines to stay very thin, you do a ‘first bite,’ then mask off some areas. Immerse for a second bite, etc.

This means that even though I used the same scribing tool on the whole plate, the result is three different line weights in the image, which will be more apparent when I do my test print.

Below is a sort of preview that I did just by inversing and using photoshop to fake it, but as this can’t show the depth of the lines, it’s not a true preview of a print.
Same image reversed and inverted in photoshop as a rough preview

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Soon there will be snow in the air and the grey will set in

cleaned-up ink version of house drawing

Here is the cleaned-up inked version of the house. Next is time to trace it and then transfer the revered version of this to the plate, below:

pencil tracing of the house drawing
Here is the tracing paper after transferring the image. As you can see, I replaced the original trees. I used a white charcoal pencil on the tracing paper to show up on the dark surface of the ‘wax’ ground into witch I’ll scratch the drawing. (I’m hoping the pre-made transfer paper I ordered will leave crisper lines, as this is fuzzy.)
the copper plate, with image transferred
After finishing the transfer to copper, I realized that I left all of my etching tools at the studio! So, I guess I’ll be working on that portion at class. I’ll try to take some decent photos of the line work in progress. You’ll see how impossibly fine the lines can be compared to pen or pencil. Stay tuned!

Paper-dry leaves crunch beneath our feet, and the wind is picking up

pencil sketch of a house in a bell jr

Tuesday I went to my first class in over 7 years— returning to the art of copperplate etching (intaglio). I’ve a small plate ready to work on before my next class on Tuesday. This is the wee sketch I did for it today.

It needs finessing, and then I’ll transfer it in reverse to my plate. I may change those trees to pines, and add some snow. We’ll see. I want to keep it fairly simple, but use this to re-familiarize with the studio and processes after such a long hiatus. Gotta wake up the muscle memory.

After I’ve got into a bit of a groove, I’ll embark on something more complex. I really want to design images with the various techniques in my mind from the start. Work to the medium’s strengths, not just mimic ink drawings or some such. More to come here as I progress!

A long overdue revisitation

Scene of a country lane done with etching techniqueAlong A Path, 2011 (intaglio and aquatint)

I’ve just signed up —at long last— for another printmaking class! Difficult to believe it’s been seven years since my scholarship to learn copperplate etching (intaglio) at Manhattan Graphics Center, which was my first and only foray into this fantastic ancient method of picture-making.

The class begins in November, with my same instructor as last time. I’ve still got a huge slab of copper which I didn’t get to last time, and I hope it’s still in good nick. Gotta check out my supplies to see what else I’ll need to resume the practice.

This time, I’m keen to get more exploratory in my work. In 2011 I focused on pieces that were intricately detailed and traditional (as you can see from these two prints). My approach involved a lot of hand work, using a magnifying glass to see as I worked. It was incredibly time-consuming, even before the acid-etching stage— which is where a lot of magic can happen, much like going into the darkroom with one’s negatives.

Continue reading “A long overdue revisitation”

The proof arrived in the mail just as the mercury dropped

Photo of the Inktober book,crowGood news and glad tidings! The printed proof of my little book of Inktober drawings arrived, and I’m releasing it to the world, so have at. Order away!

Today, too, I went to press to see my first few printed items since working at NYC & Co; a very satisfying and exciting mission for a freezing Wednesday morning in December.

Here are a few photographs I shot of the cover and a couple of spreads in the ol’ Museum (under incandescent, so you can feel like you’re here. It’s cozy here.) to further entice.


A pile of airy bones in an attic room beneath the pitched roof

Dry-point on plexi print of a house insnow
I want so much to write. I’d like to be still for a day or two; to draw. To draw at a rate more like I was in October— daily. Or nearly so. To have space for things to percolate and bubble to the surface from below.

Instead, I’ve been kept moving, pulled in multiple directions— and good ones. I’m feeling positive and interested in both the work and other pursuits I’ve been drawn to lately. But I miss the drawing, and its attendant writing.

I look forward to my week upstate at Christmastide, to be still some. And of course to time spent with my family and the animals. Wanders around the Farm to say hi to the Dudes*, take photos, and listen to the quiet of winter up there. Walk the fields. Watch murder mysteries with Mom; talk books and politics with Dad; see a movie with the brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews. (Probably the odd game of euchre or gin rummy.)

Some quiet nights in the second floor with a big orange cat lying on the bed as I read or type away on my laptop. Maybe he and I will get lost in the attic for minute, time traveling through old things, cast aways in an uninsulated room where the occasional bird finds her way in but not out— leaving behind, at length, a pile of airy bones in the low-ceilinged space beneath the pitched roof. A room mostly neglected and filled with the memories of several generations. (My kind of room)

All these things will make me feel rested and calm; remind me that no one is ever at the helm in this world. Not for long, anyway, and there is a comfort in that. Just as there is comfort in watching slow snow falling on the grass, gone brown in the fall in preparation for the long winter’s sleep.

.  .  .

*the horses

Art and other follies: a compilation

Elizabeth Daggar Art from Elizabeth Daggar on Vimeo.

In case you didn’t know, I have a website that hosts my fine art work: paintings, drawings, multiples, and sketches. Go to elizabethdaggar.com to check it out!

PS— this video looks better on instagram (no sidebars)

 

A solution for paper oddments and idle hands

decorated matchboxes
Including papers from Florence, Amsterdam, Chinatown, and pages from an old children’s dictionary!

I impulse-bought a bunch of match books from a local shop. Cause it sucks when you suddenly find yourself without a lighter (as your friends are all secretly kleptos).

When I got home, I couldn’t get past how unsatisfying the design on the boxes was, and how I didn’t want to look at them (scroll down). So I set myself a little project, inspired by the book cover matchbooks I’ve bought at Word in Greenpoint (scroll down). Gold paint, some paper and a glue stick. Voila!

For mine, I just grabbed a bunch of paper oddments from my drawer of same, and started cutting them up. Below is a batch of ten, complete; there are different papers on the obverse of each. I reckon I’ll do more, cause it’s an oddly satisfying occupation for idle hands.
decorated matchboxes
decorated matchboxes

Continue reading “A solution for paper oddments and idle hands”

September

A painting of autumn
(a painting of autumn I did in 2005)

Waning of summer month, end of beach weather month.
Back to work and back to school month.

Memory— no
A pattern, died in the wool.

Buckled-up books, backpacks, cardigans.
Skirts and stockings and
closed-up shoes that suddenly
feel too tight.

Early rising, hasty breakfasting—
Tie your shoes and
Don’t forget your lunch and
The bus is here!

Always I was running out the door, coat unzipped

Not ready (probably willfully so)
A stubborn child in the face of early mornings (i still am)

Autumn is pretty—
but it’s short-lived, and always
it carries blueprints of dark and winter.

I mourn the passing of beach days and long light
Sand in the pages of your book, and everywhere.
Sunstroke tiredness after days in the crashing waves.

Fleeting things,
like childhood itself.

Snufkin will break camp soon—
It’s cooled,
and the rain is coming.

(a design I did for a screen print from 2005)
(a design I did for a screen print from 2005)