Progress has been happening with a new series of miniature intaglio prints started a few years ago when I decided to use up a few pieces of scrap polymer plates that were in storage in the studio. They are based on a common theme of birds that I see here in the region of Ontario where I reside.
The plan at the time was to create art on a small scale and transfer the work to a plate. The plate would be inked and printed onto rag paper using an etching press.
|scale of work compared to a $2 Canadian coin which is |
slightly larger than a $0.25 cent coin)
My very first study from one of those small plates was based on a study of a chickadee at a feeder.
Translating hand-drawn artwork onto a plate
I took a sketch made on paper and made a high resolution scan of it.
Using a photoshop program the contrast was adjusted in the scanned image. I also adjusted the tone and lightened the image that was being viewed on screen by 20%.This was printed using grayscale setting with black ink only option from a HP inkjet printer. It was printed onto an inkjet transparency.
I placed the transparency tightly against a thin metal plate that had a thin coat of light-sensitive polymer fused onto it's surface. I clamped the transparency to sandwich it between a small cut piece of tempered clear glass and a thin board using some inexpensive plastic shop clamps (remind me of very large close pins.)
The art work and plate then received a timed 3 minutes of exposure to a UV light source (a small box chamber I had constructed several years back. It had 4 banks of 18 in long black lights mounted to the underside the box inside).
Plates are developed using warm tap water and gentle scrubbing using an old toothbrush. I blot the wet plate after the image appears etched into the polymer surface. The plate is then exposed once again to UV light to harden the polymer to make it a permanent set.
I wipe oil based (non-toxic) etching ink into the plate surface. The ink by wiping into shallow pitted surface areas that will reproduce the image from its surface when very intense pressure is applied from a press roller passed over the plate surface.
Hand colouring images
Since it would be very difficult to wipe various colours of etching inks to such small plates I painted colour into the image using brush and watercolour pigment. Each print varies slightly and is unique unto itself in application of the colouring.
Bird Series - Intaglio based miniature prints
I decided after printing a small edition of the chickadee to expand on the miniature plate intaglio process and develop this into a series.
Downy was the next original art image that again began as artwork on a positive and was translated to polymer plate.
This was followed a few months later with the study of a blue jay.
Drypoint plate intaglio
Beginning 2018 with renewed creative energy I have continued the series by adding another two added to the collection (see photos below). To date there are now a total of five prints in the series. I am still in the process of applying hand colouring to the new works (printed in editions of 15).
Each originates from a drawing scratched into the surface of a hard acrylic plate with an etching needle.
They then have ink wiped into the surface marks. Damp paper is set over top of the plate (set on a movable bed) and by turning the gear handles manually they are passed under a stainless steel roller. The extreme meeting of the paper and plate surface literally drives the paper fiber into the recessed inked lines to transfer the image (in reverse) onto the paper.
Colour is introduced after the print has dried once again through diluted watercolour pigment applied with brush.
Whiskey Jack 2018
The plan is to continue adding new studies to the series. In the meantime I will be making these available through both local venue and an online handmade retail site (Etsy).