I finished etching my plates and I've had to wait a while to get my turn at the big press. The studio has been busy lately and with my two plates taking up so much space, I wanted to wait till I had a quiet day so as not to be in anyone's way. To know how the etching has turned out, I need to pull a test print, or proof. I proofed both plates together last Friday. Unfortunately the print didn't come out very nicely for various reasons (I should know by now that I must proof on the editioning paper, but I had a sheet from the same brand only with slightly more surface texture that I wanted to use up...frugal me also used inks I had saved from printing before...anyways, the ink wasn't good and the paper didn't take the ink well, so the image came out rather washed out, streaky and blotchy).
The one good things I was able to discern on this proof was the registration of the two plates: it's working fine! I was afraid some stretching of such a large sheet of paper might become an issue. The colours need some adjusting, but they also might change if the keyplate prints better. I wasn't sure if some of the flaws in my print were errors in the aquatints, but a second proofing of the key plate with straight black ink on Monday showed me - to my huge relief - the plate is fine. While too dark and contrasty at this point, I can now burnish and edit my plate as well as adjust the ink's density by adding transparent base. With the grey and black printing properly now, the green won't come through as brightly on the next proof.
If you're not familiar with Intaglio printing or etching, I'll briefly describe the inking of the plates here. With a small rubber squeegee, I spread the printmaking ink over the whole surface of the etched and cleaned plate taking care to fill all the little etched lines and grooves. I carefully scrape off most of the excess ink.
Then I carefully wipe the surface with a bunched up piece of tarlatan (cheese cloth) to remove any ink from the surface without taking the ink out of the etched grooves. I will talk more about the colour printing with the stencil a different time.