In the last few years, I've been trying to do intaglio prints using the materials and techniques of so-called non-toxic printmaking. So far, the results have always been variable, at best, and mostly unsatisfactory. Just last week, I used the print facilities at an art center near my own studio to do aquatints and a hard ground etching using all the old nasty chemicals, with perfect results. But this week, I made a determined effort to try and do the same thing in the non-toxic way, and I decided to back it up by doing more detailed research and spending some cash on newer equipment. I bought a new airbrush and compressor so I could make an acrylic spray aquatint, and I mixed the spray using the recipes from the superb Zea Mays Printmaking Center's research page.
The above image shows a small 4" x 3" copper plate that already had a drypoint on it. I covered it with about a 60% to 70% dot pattern using the airbrush, and did a spit-bite etching using some old ferric and a little gum arabic. The photo shows the plate beginning to change tones as the mordant bites around the aquatint. The spit bite lasted about 20 minutes. I cleaned off the aquatint in a solution of washing soda and water. The prrof looked like this:
The watery tones are produced by the spit bite. As you can see, they could be darker, but I count this as a success, because it means that the aquatint was really strong and held up well under the mordant, and also that I could etch it even longer and almost certainly produce the deep dark tones of a spit bite etching as well.
All in all, a good day in the studio.
This is my studio blog. I also have another blog, Praeterita, which contains more general art-related posts.