The worth of a chicken

Those of you who know me best also know that I am a bit obsessed with chickens, don’t ask me why. So I’ve had this inkling for a while to print a chicken using lithography. I’ve sort of had to braise myself for this one as I do not eat chickens and I certainly do not condone the farming and killing of chickens so the idea of using another chicken for some experimental printing didn’t quite sit straight with me. But I just had to do it, hoping that it would be worth it in the end.

I got a supermarket chicken for £3.50 and took it to the workshop. First of all the smell was horrible, the smell of death, but it was also just looked sad, the wings twisted behind its back and thighs tied together with a string. I untied and untwisted it, it looked a bit more natural (although missing a head, feet insides) and got to work. There is a very different feeling in cooking meat and then using a dead animal for anything else, it suddenly becomes much more unethical than it already is.


With all my morals switched off I didn’t really trust the chicken to be greasy enough to make a good imprint on my stone so I mixed up some litho ink and turps and tried rubbing it on the chicken. It didn’t really go so well, the mixture was very tacky and as the chicken was a bit watery it didn’t really stick to the chicken, the skin also started peeling off, eugh. I tried to cover it as well as I could but mostly the ink was just sticking to my gloves. Then I laid the chicken, back down, on the stone, spread its wings for the last time and got an imprint like this:


Okay I thought, but I wasn’t quite satisfied and also felt it was such a waste to just take one imprint and then chuck the chicken. So I covered it with some brown liquid writing ink, grabbed another stone and got this:


At this point it was still unknown what would actually print and what wouldn’t, although it looked like there was a lot on the stone I wasn’t sure what was grease and what was just watery chicken juice.

The stones rested for a few days, I didn’t etch them at all but then gummed them, washed them out and rolled them up with some non drying black (Noir-a-monter).


A lot came up when I rolled it up which I was very pleased to see, a bit too much on one of them as you can see. My molotov cocktails reappeared and had to be etched away. Now this has never happened before and really surprised me, I guess I have been slacking off a bit with my graining. A thought that was later reinforced when I discovered that the other stone was completely uneven and had a “dent” in the very centre. Not good. But regardless the result of both stones was better than I had hoped.

Proofed both in black and did a bit of etching and retouching. Then I went straight to colour. There was no question at this tme that they should be printed in two layers on top of each other in two different colours. Pink for the first layer.


And red for the second one.


I was very unsure about the finished print so I only did a couple. As it was nice Hahnemühle etching paper I of course went to redamp it so I could press it properly, the papers had gotten dry as I had been staring at them for wuite a while. As I had dunked them in the basin and hung them up to drip I realised they looked quite interesting like that.

L1030644-xThey suddenly became something other than just the prints on the paper. It got me thinking and I’m still thinking. I am still in the process of printing these and trying to find what their true worth will be as these lithographic imprints of a single chicken.


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