Well, it took a week of fine tuning all the different non-toxic acrylic-based pieces, but I finally got a good spit bite with a range of tones from light grey to deep black. The picture above shows the test strip of copper that I used to get it right. Numbers 1 to 4 were etched from 5 to 35 minutes. on a light aquatint spray of Speedball screen filler, Numbers 5 to 9 were etched for the same times on a thicker aquatint spray of Speedball screen filler. Numbers 10 to 13 were etched for the same times on an aquatint spray using the Zea Mays recipe (based on Pledge floor polish). Given that the Speedball aquatint is one that I used countless times back in the 1990s, and it smells less strong than the Zea Mays, I went with that. I etched my CULM image for 35 minutes, adding more ferric three times after minute 15. This is how the inked up plate looked:
The cloud with the word in it, and the crane, are spit bite (actually four or five applications, the last one being the darkest.) The word and the head are sugarlift-aquatint-etching. The tones in the inked up plate were so rich and dark that I said to myself, Surely it's going to work this time. Here is how it printed:
Success! Finally, the spit bite marks have that watery, ink painting feel, with a wide range of tones from grey through deep black. It has been a frustrating week, full of bad proofs and mystifying dead ends, but the wait was worth it. In a future blog post, I will write about all the materials that I used, from degreasing through to printing.
This is my studio blog. I also have another blog, Praeterita, which contains more general art-related posts.