Sunday, April 29, 2018

Goodbye to ACAD

I've spent the past semester teaching printmaking at ACAD (Alberta College for Art and Design) in Calgary. The term has ended and I'm off to new destinations soon. Teaching has taken up much of my time and energy, but I etched a few new plates and did get to try out this big motorized Griffin press to print some test prints. I also played with some toner transfers for the seed jar imagery. I had to teach toner transfers in one of my classes, so I decided to try them in my own work. I'm still debating whether a digital print might be more successful in the long run, since it would be a bit crisper. I'm not quite happy with the prints yet, but I think several of them might grow into something finished eventually.

Detail of test print.

Crackle Effect

Testprint of Crackle Effect. 
I have recently tried a new etching technique to achieve this lovely crackle effect. It's relatively easy to do, but there is a bit of a chance factor involved. I've seen this effect in other printmakers' work, and I ended up following the recipe of Aine Scanell's Blog. I applied a ball ground to the plate, brushed on some talc after it was dry, brushed on gum arabic and put the copper plate on the hot plate at 200 degrees. When heated, the gum contracts as it is drying and pulls the hard ground apart. I had some flaking where the gum was thicker or where the hot plate got hotter, so I did some touch-ups before etching the plate. After cooling, the cracks have to be cleaned really carefully with a solvent to remove and hard ground residue. Then the gum needs to be washed off with water. I also applied an aquatint at the end, since some of the cracks whee rather wide. I am really please with the result and I think this plate and this technique has a lot of potential for my future work. I might tackle some issues about soil degradation or desertification in relation to my grad work about extractivist agribusiness models and monocultures.

Copper plate with hard ground and gum arabic application after being heated.