Wednesday, March 6, 2013: Intaglio!

What a wonderful day I had today!

I got to the studio at around 10:15 and scheduled an afternoon induction for copper etching with David, master of the Slade printshop. I had about two hours and 20 minutes before my lunch date with Rachel Shaw, so I took a walk. I’ve been meaning to roam around East London for a while and even though I knew I didn’t have enough time to roam as I would like to, I thought at the very least I should at least continue my Central routes further East. So I took Gower Street until that became Bloomsbury Street became New Oxford Street became Theobauld’s Road became Clerkenwell Road became Old Street became City Road became Pentonville Road became Euston Road became Gordon Street and I arrived back where I started at UCL. It was not a very scenic walk, in fact, I’d even say that it was ugly. But it was important.

Lovely lunch with Rachel! Followed by a tour of the Slade which will be followed up with an adventure in the bindery!

2 PM came around which meant it was time to learn intaglio. I’ll explain the process through photo commentary. So you’ll have to stay tuned for that. But I have this problem that I think etching will either help or exacerbate. This problem is related to why I’ve been sketching people on the Tube. It takes me more time to mentally prepare to draw than the time I spend drawing. And then the whole process is nerve-wracking because I want my drawing to resemble what I see in my mind’s eye perfectly. This does not usually happen. So why do I think intaglio can be good (or devastating) for me? Because you can’t take back the lines you make in the ground and you can only move forward with the process and see your etching on paper if you keep going. And that was the experience I had today. I was confronted by this blank copper slate and I’m thinking shoot now what. So I looked at my pictures from Christmas in New Hampshire and decided to draw the house there. I hoped to get it line for line, but I’m not so good at drawing with perspective and I was working in a much bigger scale than the image on the screen of my iPhone, so at a certain point I justused the house as the springboard for something else. Much like my experience at City and Guilds last night. If it can’t look like the image in your mind, move on and figure out what it looks like as you go along. The trouble then is knowing when to stop.

Acid etching is an incredibly time consuming activity. Once you etch your design/image/drawing, you put the copper plate in acid but not actually acid we use something else. Ferric Chloride, maybe? Is that a thing? If you leave it in for under 5 minutes, it doesn’t have much time to eat away at the lines you drew in the copper, hence those lines won’t be able to hold very much ink, thus the print will be very light. If you want a dark print, you need to let it sit for at least 15 minutes. And if you want varying contrasts throughout your image, you need to block out light things after a few minutes so that you can put the plate back in the acid bath and let it eat away at more of the copper that isn’t covered. Takes patience and you have no idea how it’s going to look until the copper hits the paper after you’ve been committed to it for multiple hours. Yet, I seem to like this a lot so far. But again, I haven’t even made a print yet, so let’s hold back for now.

The printshop closes at 5, so I cleaned up and sat at my desk and ate chocolate waiting in suspense to find out if Gaby Salpeter had one Book of Mormon tickets in the lottery. She did not. But she will try again! So I went home and HiattChatted for a while and here I am.

I’ll be back in the printshop tomorrow when it opens at 10! And then perhaps a lunch break in room 90 of the British Museum down the road? Followed by some more glass time at City and Guilds. And then Friday! I’m home for Shabbos so I have a whole day, sans traveling. I’m thinking an epic walk. To be continued.



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