A failed experiment… or not?


I have been working on a pretty interesting stone for the last couple of weeks. I wanted to be a bit more experimental like I mentioned in last weeks post and I just got so excited that decided to cram in one too many things. First of all I really wanted to print a stone until it just gets really dark and gritty, with no etching or retouching during the whole print process and see where the limit lies, sort of. Secondly I wanted to work a bit more with the inks and see how the Atzol etch would treat them. So I went about drawing my stone, did a lovely little molotov cocktail.


When etching I used the classic Atzol mix we have at the studio which is 30% Atzol and 70% gum, developed by the wonderful Kathryn Desforges during her litho fellowship if I am not mistaken. From what I have heard it is a pretty foolproof etch especially for crayon drawings but it is not as good for the washes. I love working with the washes and until now I have been etching them with my own nitric acid mixed etches. I wanted to see how the drawing would be affected and if I would loose some of the fine details or the very light areas. So I etched it three times! with the Atzol before printing it. And it looked like it had worked really well and the prints were very nice, I didn’t loose any of my light areas and I still had a lot of details in my water washes, although it is hard to say whether I would have had more if I had used the nitric acid etch.

I really love how the Charbonnel writing ink came out in the flames there with such a rich range of grey tones.


So part one of my experiment was very successful but they same cannot be said about part two. I also wanted my prints to start getting dark and murky while printing so I had prepared 60 sheets of damp kitchen paper to print on, I figured that would probably be more than enough. I didn’t quite get that far though, I printed 36 copies before finally stopping because my prints were all near perfect. No dark etches or grey noise anywhere, they looked so horribly nice and clean, what a disappointment!

Oh no, wait, I just printed 36 perfect copies of my stone in one go, that is actually pretty fantastic!

So it was a great success in the end, just not in they way I was expecting. The Atzol etch is so brilliant and the fact that I etched my stone three times made it possible to keep printing and printing without having to stop and re etch like I usually have to do after a dozen prints.  In the end thoug I was so frustrated that they weren’t getting dirty enough that I was deliberately using a lot of ink and trying to get them more grey, so the last three or so were a bit dark. I have put in photos of prints number 1, 11, 23, 33 and 36 so you can see how it (didn’t really) change.

L1020450-1-2 L1020455-2-2 L1020462-3-2L1020467-1 L1020469-4-2

Needless to say I have already started a new stone that I will etch very carefully so it definitely will become a black mess. Can’t wait to print it, I have a feeling it will be absolutely wonderful!


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