Icing Sugar Aquatint #14

Test Summary
This experiment tests a process developed by Andrew Baldwin in which icing sugar is used to create an aquatint. Using a cake sieve, the icing sugar was dusted onto a grounded plate. For this test, the plate was etched for 20 minutes to create a darker tone. This plate was prepared with Tate & Lyle British icing sugar and was created side by side with the plate for Test 15 which used American icing sugar.

Date: May 8, 2012
Researcher’s Name: Andrea Santos & Mary Clark
Plate Material: .032 copper
Plate Size: 3 x 4 1/2″
Room Temperature: 67, moderately humid

Plate Preparation
The plate was degreased with soy sauce and bon ami that was rubbed onto surface with a scrap of rolled felt. The plate was rinsed under running water, dried by blotting on newsprint and using a blowdryer. A thin layer of BIG ground was rolled out on a glass slab using a 10″ brayer. The ground was rolled onto the plate in all directions to apply a thin even coat. The plate was grounded right after the sparkle of copper was covered with an additional pass. The oven was preheated at 240 degrees on the ‘convention’ setting. Plate was set aside as sugar get prepared.

The icing sugar was pre-sifted and set aside to create a faster, more even application. The pile of pre-sifted Tate & Lyle icing sugar was placed on the top of the mesh of a cake sifter. Placing the plate directly underneath, the sifter is shaken from side to side to allow the sugar to dust down onto the plate. A 4-inch, flat scraper was then used to move around the rest of the sugar on the mesh to allow it to fall onto plate. This is continued until the plate is completely covered in sugar and no red of the ground could be seen through the layer of white sugar on surface. Plate was left alone with heap of sugar for 5 minutes. Plate was then lifted vertically and tapped on it’s edge against the table to remove excess sugar. The appearance of the plate surface was even without any discoloration spots. The plate was left alone flat on a table for 30 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve into the ground.

Plate was then placed into the pre-heated oven for 6 minutes at 240 degrees. After baking, plate was left alone for one hour. At that point, plate surface feels room temperature and sugar had hardened.

Using a tray and warm water (tap hot), plate was submerged and repeatedly rinsed to dissolve sugar. The water was sloshed around to continuously move water over surface and new water was replaced every few minutes. Plate was also ran directly under the faucet stream. These methods were switched between and repeated for 20 minutes. The plate was then blotted dry and backed with contact paper.

14.1

 

14.2

 

14.3

 

Etching Notes
Plate was placed in tray of salt and vinegar to remove any oxidation, blotted with newsprint and backed with contact paper. Plate was placed flat into a tray of ferric to etch for 20 minutes. While plate was in tray, acid was carefully sloshed from side to side to avoid having bubbles form on the surface which would result as a resist. At 5 minutes, a swirl like pattern began to form in the ground. At 10 minutes, the ground was noticeably breaking down in the acid. At 15 minutes, the ground was mostly removed and swirl-cloud like marks began to appear. At 20 minutes, plate was rinsed under the faucet with barely any ground left.

Timed Application of Mordant
20 minutes

Removal of Grounds
Plate was sprayed with soysolv to remove the ground. It was cleaned with soysolv and a rag until it wiped clean. The plate was then place in the salt and vinegar bath and dried with blotting newsprint and a blowdryer.

After Bath Evaluation
When plate was rinsed from acid tray, there was barely any ground and a cloud-like image had appeared.

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Inking Methods
Plate was inked using Graphic Chemical bone black. The ink was carded on with mat board scraps, wiped in gentle circular motions with used tarletan and palm wiped.

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Paper Type: hahnemuhle
Paper Soaking Time: 20 minutes
Press Blanket Setup: brand, 2 blankets, 2.5 pressure

Test Conclusion
The proof had a distinct, cloud-like, stenciled image that must have been made in the acid bath. There were at least 5 ranges of grey in the print in swirl-like patterns. We are unclear as to how or why this happened in the acid bath and what could have produced such a specifically-shaped image. One possibility is that the rolled felt used to degrease the plate could have had something in it like grease which seems to make sense with the circular like forms.

Printed Images

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Icing Sugar Aquatint #15 >