Informal Instructions Paraphrased from Andrew Baldwin: 1. Photocopy photograph in positive 2. Smother a glass surface with Gum Arabic 3. Place copy face-up on glass 4. Rub a bit of Gum into photocopy (not too much) 5. Reduce some red B.I.G. with a little tack reducer 6. Roll over wet gummed photocopy with B.I.G. loaded roller 7. Repeat if necessary, but strip ground before rolling again 8. Make sure toner areas of photocopy are completely covered with ground 9. Lightly wipe paper with a wet sponge (ground will come away from paper, but remain in toner) 10. Place grounded photocopy face-down onto degreased copper plate [11. Run this through the press] 12. Bake for 6 minutes at 350 fahrenheit 13. Rest for 30 minutes 14. Etch 15. Clean and polish open-bit areas 16. Print For our first experiment, we each attempted the process using separate plates, but the same image. We will call these plate 1 and plate 2.
Date: September 11, 2012
Researcher’s Name: Kayla Biggs and Sally Mackenzie
Plate Material: 0.32 Copper
Plate Size: 4″x6″
Room Temperature: 73 degrees F, dry
Filed edges of two plates and degreased, alternating Bon Ami and soy sauce twice, cleaning in small circles with gloved fingers.
We began with Plate 1, which we set aside in order to prepare the transfer. We had made photocopies on the Brother Laser Printer. These came from a color image in a book, which we copied in black and white and resized to 50%. We lay the first copy onto a piece of glass that had been “smothered” with about 3 tablespoons of Gum Arabic. We applied another tablespoon of Gum directly onto the image, and rubbed it on gently with a finger, then wiped away excess.
We mixed 1 teaspoon of red B.I.G. with a pea-sized quantity of tack reducer, placed the photocopy onto the glass rolling surface, and rolled on a thin layer of ground. Our photocopy stuck to the roller as we did this, though we had somewhat better luck when a thicker layer of B.I.G. was applied. Then we gently wiped off the ground with a clean, damp sponge. The ground came off relatively easily from the white areas, and remained thick in places where the toner was darkest. We then placed the treated photocopy against Plate 1 and ran it through the Pelican Etching Press, enveloped in 3 sheets of newsprint (to protect blankets) with 2 sizing catchers at 5.5 pressure. The newsprint wrinkled and left marks that ultimately printed. we did not have this problem when we only used 2 sheets.
With Plate 2, we used the same set-up, but removed half the Gum Arabic from the glass surface before treating the photocopy. The paper did not stick to the roller, and the B.I.G. covered fairly well after 3-4 rolls. We sponged the surface once, but more ground stayed in the white areas this time. We tried rolling on more B.I.G, but the paper had become weak and the roller caused a small tear. After a second round of sponging, white areas in the photocopy remained quite pink with B.I.G, but more detail was visible overall. This treated photocopy was applied to the face of Plate 2 and run through the Pelican press, enveloped in 2 sheets of newsprint, with 2 sizing catchers, pressure 5.5.
We baked both plates simultaneously for 6 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit, and left them in the oven to cure for an additional 30 minutes. We applied contact paper to the back sides and protected the filed edges with Sharpie before etching.
Both plates were etched simultaneously for 30 minutes in 38 deg Baume Ferric Chloride. The plates were immediately rinsed with water, then deoxidized in a brightener bath made of distilled white vinegar and salt (1 gallon/1 cup.)
Timed Application of Mordant
Removal of Grounds
We removed the ground by dipping each plate into stripper solution, then using Soy Solv and a toothbrush. The ground came off easily. During ground removal we saw visible oxidation. We deoxidized the plates, rinsed, and dried with newsprint.
After Bath Evaluation
After removing the ground, we could see that the plates clearly etched, most strikingly in areas that held no BIG and open-bit. The newsprint wrinkles from pressing Plate 1 did etch. A fingerprint etched on Plate 2. We believe this fingerprint was pressed into the BIG when we held the photocopy down to prevent it from sticking to the roller. Both plates appeared to have some areas of tone.
To ink the plates, we used Graphic Chemical Bone Black oil-based etching ink (514.) We warmed the plates on the hot plate, then applied the ink using a mat board chip. We wiped the plates first using tarlatan, then palm-wiped with whiting.
Paper Type: Hahnemuhle Copperplate
Paper Soaking Time: 30 minutes
Press Blanket Setup: Pelican press, 2 sizing catcher blanket setup, pressure 5.5
Plate 1: The print of Plate 1 had very rich blacks, but little tonal variety. Much of the detail of the original image was lost. Some of the fine white details were too narrow to be wiped, so they held ink and printed black. Also, in some of the areas where the BIG was thickly applied to the plate it acted a stop-out, resulting in white splotches. The newsprint wrinkles printed black. Plate 2: The print of Plate 2 had more aquatint-like gray areas, and few true blacks. Still, there was very little tonal variety. Print 2 had crisper lines. Again, some white details printed black. We believe that the amount of Gum Arabic applied to the image will be an important variable in the ultimate contrast and tone of the final image. The heavy application of Gum on the photocopy for Plate 1 allowed the BIG to wipe more cleanly out of the non-toner areas, but it resulted in more BIG in the toner areas, which caused stop-outs. It also caused the photocopy to stick to the roller. The lighter application of Gum used on Photocopy 2 resulted in more even BIG application, including in white areas, where it is not desired. We will continue to investigate the appropriate amount of Gum to use.