White Ground Alternatives Using Suspended Pigment: Test 3

March 18, 2016

Researchers: Katie St. John and Liv Stanislas

Room Temperature: 67 degrees Fahrenheit

Humidity, etcRainy outside, slightly humid

Materials: 4″x 6″ Copper Plate 0.032 Gauge, Ivory Bar Soap, Guerra Titanium White Pigment, Water, and Graphic Chemical Bone Black Ink.

Abstract: In this experiment we were looking to see if the removal of Linseed Oil from our Shaved Ivory Bar Soap recipe would make it so the soap ground would become less sticky and would flake off the plate more readily, producing the desired effect of White Ground, instead of the stop-out effect it had previously.

Plate Preparation and Application (surface prep, ground application, image making process, etc.):

Burnished out significant lines, steel wool sanded then Putz Pomade applied; Cleaned with 7th Generation Degreaser; degreased with soy sauce, backed with contact paper

Sprayed acrylic aquatint through an airbrush onto the plate, then heat-set the aquatint in a hot box for 20 minutes before adding soap ground, plate sat for over 1 week

Soap ground recipe: Shaved Soap Ground Redo (4 tsp Ivory bar soap finely grated, 2 tsp Guerra Paint & Pigment titanium white suspended pigment)

Shaved Soap Ground without Linseed Oil, mixed.

Shaved Soap Ground without Linseed Oil, mixed.

Soap was grated on a typical kitchen grater, smallest size grater available, and then crumbled by hand to a consistency of short-grain rice. We used the same crumbled soap batch as the initial test, making this soap now 1 week old. It seems as though the soap itself had dried out some, making it easier to mix than the first batch.

Shaved Soap Ground with out Linseed Oil, applied to a copper plate, before etch.

Shaved Soap Ground with out Linseed Oil, applied to a copper plate, before etch.

Application of the shaved soap ground with brushes was still more difficult, it had to be worked more to get a smooth consistency for painting. Though it was easier to smooth out with the, now, drier soap. The ground on the plate held all the textures of different brushes and styles of application.

Etching Bath notes

39 degrees Baume ferric chloride

Etched in horizontal bath with agitation every 2 minutes or so

Time in bath: 23 minutes

After bath evaluation

There was no flaking of the soap ground off into the bath, lots, if not all, of ground still left on the shaved soap plate

Removal of grounds (chemicals used and evaluation of effectiveness)

Removed residual soap grounds with 7th Generation degreaser and wiping with rags: effective for guerra ground

Shaved soap was more difficult to remove with this method, it looked like the ferric chloride wasn’t able to penetrate the soap and that the soap was too sticky and not coming off the plate, much like the first test we did with the shaved soap.

Placed in stripper bath for 15 minutes to remove the aquatint

Placed in deoxidizer bath

Shaved Soap Ground without Linseed Oil, plate after etching and cleaning.

Shaved Soap Ground without Linseed Oil, plate after etching and cleaning.

Inking methods (type of ink used, modifiers, wiping/rolling techniques)

Ink: Graphic Chemical Bone Black with no modifiers

Tarlatan wiping with a short paper wipe to finish

Paper type: Hannemuhle Copper Plate Bright White, ⅛ sheet

Soaking time: 25 minutes

Press (blanket set up and pressure): Pelican Press with 2 sizing catchers; 0.8 pressure



The shaved soap, even leaving out the linseed oil from previous recipes, still provided little to no tonal variance. Like it did before, it acted more like a stop out than a traditional soap ground. This left the print with only three values, white, light grey where the ground was mostly water, and black. The soap is still sticking to the plate too much, so we still need to look into making it less sticky or greasy. Perhaps, the next steps are to add Sodium Carbonate, which is used to break down hard ground and acrylic aquatint, and see if that makes the ground have the desired broken down effect.

White Ground Alternatives Using Suspended Pigment: Test 4 >