Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dust Bunny

8" x 10" Soft ground and sugar lift etching with color aquatint

The owner of the braid of the last two posts leaves these things each time she brushes her waist-length hair. She leaves them as little gifts on a desk, in a wineglass or tucked into an envelope like some precious little secret note.

And they are charming, in a kind of old-relic, church-remnant sort of way. We now both sort of collect them; I hope eventually to fill a large bell jar with the cast off tumbleweeds around a small suspended marble figure floating in the middle like a fetus in a hairy amniotic sac.

This print was so much fun to make.

Plate 1: 6" X 8" polished copper. Sugar lift/aquatint--even the name is cool.

A single fat brush stroke towards the bottom of the plate was drawn using a karo sugar syrup/india ink solution and allowed to dry.
Then a turpentine/asphaltum mixture was painted over that. It coated the rest of the copper plate to protect it from the acid. Once dry, the whole plate was placed in warm water and the sugar/karo brush stroke was dissolved out leaving the bare metal. This was placed in the acquatint box--depositing a thin layer of powdered rosin over the brush stroke. Heated gently in an oven, it sort of melted in a pebbly,uneven fashion so when the plate was placed in the acid (30seconds) the result is a gently etched perfect brush stroke that will print at the bottom of the print.

Plate 2: The hairball. Soft ground etching. I rolled a warm, waxy, soft resist across the whole second plate and then placed a thin piece of paper on top. Using a dull pencil, I scribbled all the lines on the paper. They pressed into the soft wax-like resist which stuck to the paper where the lines were drawn.
Lifted off they left the impression of my drawn squiggles which when placed in the acid (30 minutes) ate where the lines had exposed the metal. These etched lines would then hold the ink when the plate was inked and printed.

These were printed in sequence; First a nice lavender shadow/brush stroke for plate 1
Followed by a brown/black for plate 2.

Simple/complex--maybe not quite hairy enough....

Hairball, etching and aquatint, chine colle'
8" X 10"


  1. Sweet post, great description of the process too.

  2. Ha! Who'd have thought a hair ball could have so much appeal. A very entertaining story too.