Exactly twenty years ago, I was in the sixth or seventh week of a course in intaglio etching. This was the first printmaking I had ever done, and I was taking the class with a German master printer called Thomas Gosebruch at his studio near King's Cross station in London. I've blogged about him a few times, and every now and then when I teach my own printmaking classes, I recount the moment during one of those first classes when Thomas looked at one of my earliest prints, sighed and said: "You haff completely misunderstood the entire process."
I was unpacking more old etching plates in my studio today, when to my surprise I found the very plate that he was talking about. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the first etching that I ever did. As far as I can remember, it's a hard ground etching on a 10" x 12" steel plate. After cleaning off the layer of protective grease, and getting rid of a little rust, I inked and printed the plate, and this is what I got:
I guess it's a quick still life of a bottle and some other things on top of a studio table. The lines are indeed thick for a hard ground, so that they etched more like an engraving. But for a first ever etching, I think it's not bad. And the proof that I took today is as good as when I first made the etching 20 years ago. I guess it's pure coincidence that my hands alighted on this plate today, so close to its birthday. If I were someone who believed in supernatural forces, I might almost be inclined to believe it was fated.
By way of comparison, here is my most recent print -- the latest step in a two-decades old journey:
This is my studio blog. I also have another blog, Praeterita, which contains more general art-related posts.