One of the prints I have enjoyed working on most recently has been an etching I’ve done of a hedgehog. We all love hedgehogs – they are such engaging characters. The etching went more or less as planned (which isn’t always the case with etching), plus I allowed plenty of scope for happy accidents!
I don’t do that many etchings these days because, despite using much more environmentally friendly materials than were used with traditional etching – I still worry about the environmental impact of mining for the copper minerals. I would be happier if I could be sure that my copper was all recycled.
The hedgehog is part of an ongoing interest in the ecology of our hedgerows. The first stage of the etching was to etch hard-ground line work.
The second stage was to apply a soft-ground and make in impression from hedgerow materials.
The marks in the soft-ground were then etched in stages, using the tonalities rather like an aquatint.
With a little judicious sanding and polishing the etched copper plate produce the effect more or less as I intended – ie a hedgehog emerging from the dark recesses under a hedge.
But I wanted to make more of the idea of a hedgehog emerging through the undergrowth, so I collected more plant materials in keeping in the undergrowth of a hedge to print them as mono-print over and around the etching plate.
To achieve this, the selected plant materials needed to be inked up by passing through the press on an inky plate each time the etching was printed. So that the weeds would harmonise with the etching plate they were inked using the same colour etching in that was used to ink the copper plate etching. This etching was being produced in an edition of 25 for a print exchange. http://www.hotbedpress.org/events/2020-print-exchange/
To make sure I had 25 good prints on paper measuring 20cmx20cm I printed 28 prints. Each time the plants needed to go through the press at a soft pressure then I had to remember to tighten up the press to etch the copper plate and the inky plants at the same time. That’s a lot of times going backwards and forwards through the press. It’s remarkable that most of the plants survived for the whole print run. Resulting in a surprisingly consisted print edition – considering that there is a mono-print element.
After completing the prints for the print exchange, I wanted to print a further set of prints on larger paper 25cmx25cmso that I would have some to sell as a reward for all the effort! Using the same colours and a fresh batch of pressed plants I produced an edition of just 12 for sale.
I was delighted with the encouraging feedback I was receiving for this piece of work – so – just for the fun of it – I printed the etching plate on to a T-shirt. Etching ink will never wash out, and because the plate goes through the press at great pressure, think is very well driven into the fibres of the cloth.
… and now to put it all together here’s a nice little Animoto video…
Try our slideshow creator at Animoto.