BIG Soft Ground Research Test 3

Test Summary
We know that we can achieve pencil quality line through the softground but now we want to test a full tonal spectrum. To determine if this softground can achieve these results we are drawing with hard pencils instead of soft colored pencils and applying more pressure in areas to lift more softground to create darks.

Date: October 27, 2010
Researcher’s Name: Lyell Castonguay and Brianna Ashe
Plate Material: .032 Copper
Plate Size: 6 in x 6 in
Room Temperature: 60°F dry and sunny

Plate Preparation
Each plate was degreased with soy sauce that was rubbed onto a copper plate using a piece of rolled felt, rinsed and then dried with a clean rag and blow dryer. The BIG was squeezed from the tube onto a clean, glass inking slab, spread with a knife and rolled up using a 4″ diameter, medium hardness brayer. Several thin layers of red BIG were rolled across the surface of the copper plate, building gradually enough so the copper did not sparkle through the ground. We waited 30 minutes to allow the ground to set hoping the extended time would stabilize the ground and make drawing effortless. We used newsprint as a transfer paper, gently laid across the surface of the plate. We used a bridge to hold our hand above the plate surface in order not to disrupt the ground. The goal was to have the paper lay across the plate evenly without wrinkling or over lifting the ground. We immediately cleaned the roller and slab with diluted Simple Green and a rag after rolling up the copper plate. In this experiment we used “H” pencils thinking that the harder pencil will allow us to press harder on the newsprint paper and lift more ground from the plate to create darks. The drawing time was broken into four 15-minute increments. We hardened the ground for 30 minutes in the hotbox until the ground was smooth to the touch without any tack.

Bri's drawing and transfer

Bri’s drawing and transfer

Lyell's drawing and transfer

Lyell’s drawing and transfer

Etching Notes
Each plate was etched in a vertical etching tank of Ferric Chloride at 38° Baume.

Timed Application of Mordant
30 Minutes

Removal of Grounds
The grounds were removed using a stripper bath of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and water (100 grams/1 liter). BIG does not come off easily in this bath and requires generous amounts of Bon Ami to scrub away remaining ground left on the plate. They were rinsed in water and deoxidized in the plate brightener bath made of distilled white vinegar and salt (1 gallon/1 cup). Immediately following the brightener bath they were dried with a clean rag and blow dryer.

After Bath Evaluation
Foul bite has all but ruined Lyell’s drawing. Bri’s linear effects etched well but little tone is evident. Almost all detail is gone.

Bri's Etched Plate

Bri’s Etched Plate

Lyell's Etched Plate

Lyell’s Etched Plate

Inking Methods
The plates were inked with unmodified Graphic Chemical & Ink Co. Bone Black Etching Ink #514. The ink was carded on with mat board scraps, wiped with used tarlatan, and then palm wiped.

Paper Type: Hahnemule Copperplate
Paper Soaking Time: 30 Minutes
Press Blanket Setup: Sizing Catcher and Pusher, 6.5 pressure, Small Takach Etching Press

Test Conclusion
Immediately we noticed that even after 30 minutes of open air time before drawing the ground was too unstable for us to draw. The tackiness of the red BIG ground led to disastrous consequences when drawing. Too much of the BIG ground lifted off onto the transfer paper and opened up the plate to foul biting. We also speculate that a lower temperature and humidity has affected the sensitivity of the ground, making it too tacky to work with. The ground retained a highly glossy wet sheen and was affected by even the lightest touch. Below are images of the pulled prints.

Printed Images

Bri's Print

Bri’s Print

Lyell's Print

Lyell’s Print

BIG Soft Ground Research Test 4 >