Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A small photo based etching with hand colouring

The print above developed out of some shots taken with my digital camera last week. Using the zoom lens I was able to capture some nice studies of a small Northern Shrike who was sitting on a lilac shrub branch in my back yard. There is a good sized colony of finches and sparrows around the property who find shelter over the winter in a fair number of old growth spruce and cedar trees that border the yard, and a few predatory birds have been known to stop on occasion to make a meal of one of the small songbirds. Although I did not see this Shrike kill I believe that this was the case. This birds presence also signalled that spring is very close due to migration.

From the photo I was able to print a grayscale positive onto an inkjet transparency sheet, then it was exposed onto a small square solar plate (7.5 cm or about 3 inches square) with UV light from my homemade exposure unit. Followed this with a scrubbing in warm water to develop the image into the polymer and when plate was dry I filed the corners to round them. The sides of the plate had a bevel created by shaving the edge of the polymer coating with a sharp utility blade knife that was drawn towards me angled at 45 degrees.
An application of bone black oil base etching ink was wiped into the recessed lines, and finally the surface received a polishing using yellow pages torn from an old phone book. The image was printed into damp Coventry rag paper passed through my small etching press with 3 layers of felts set over paper and plate.

Once the print was removed from the press fastened the paper to a small wood panel board with butchers tape around the perimeter and when it had dried applied subtle watercolour washes to the image. I first painted on some liquid frisket in spots around the edges of the bird's body and the branch top and bottom. When it was removed it left whitish highlights of the sun defining edges.

Will print an edition of 20 (all variable) since they are going to have hand colouring applied into each one.


  1. What a delightful print. It's so soft. I love the rounded corners.

  2. Hi. I need help. I'm a part-time art student from Toronto. I recently took a course in monoprinting, thinking it would teach me about etching. =) Needless to say I was way off base, though they did mention in passing drypoint. I'm interested in using photos to make etchings. It's a christmas project. Can you direct me to a book or website on detailed instructions on how to do etching? The one that use zinc plates? I already have the plates. I'm also interested in your solar method but I don't know where to buy those solar plates. Is the solar method easier?