Grounding Plates for Horses…

October 15, 2014 § 1 Comment

image I thought, in view of all the different kinds of ‘prints’ on the market nowadays, and in the lead up to the forthcoming exhibition, that it might be nice to record an etching plate in real time. Some people will know all about etching, more than I ever will, but for those who aren’t familiar with printmaking methods, or ‘intaglio’ in particular, I thought a record in photographs might not go amiss. Above is a photo of a large copper plate, 1mm thick, and comes in sheet sizes of 1x2m which I get cut into 3 sections on the huge guillotine at a local engineering firm. They tend to make cattle sheds and hay barns so what might be a large sheet of metal for you and me is no problem for them!  The first step is to degrease the copper plate with whiting and ammonia, which in the spirit of Blue Peter you’ll have to assume is already done. The next step is to heat the plate and apply the ‘ground’…

image This hard ground is a bituminous substance which, when hot, melts and can be applied in a thin layer onto the copper with a roller. When the plate has cooled, the ground sets.

image One wants the ground in a nice thin even layer. Thin enough to draw through without it flaking off, and thick enough to not break down in the acid, for it is this ground which protects the metal during the etching process.

You can see the difference in the colour below. Some people smoke the ground black, which makes it easier to see where one is drawing, and with the shorter days and poor lighting, I might try this, one day. I tend to work on plates in situ where possible, thought the big ones are a bit more cumbersome. Eitherway it’s best to wrap them up in paper until time of use, this one is destined for a remarkable piece of poetry called ‘Horse’…

imageimage So watch this space!  This plate will feature in the forthcoming exhibition opening in Marlborough, Wiltshire in November. For details please get in in touch.


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