Mezzotint Progress!!

26 Feb

It took me a good while to prepare my latest mezzotint plate (approx. 30x30cm) but having started working into it I have realised that my ‘rocking’ skills have some what improved! The main thing is that I didn’t rush it so the surface is less rough than my previous works…although I have left the edges of the plate, partly because it takes further patience to do them neatly, but it also makes the rocker marks more visible so that when it’s printed you can see that it’s been rocked by hand and not by a machine!

I started rocking the plate last summer but at the time didn’t have a solid idea for the image I wanted to use.  In the end I have chosen this image I took of one of the letter press machines at the John Jarrold Printing Museum:

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So far I have transferred the image in reverse using carbon paper (amazing stuff) and started scraping back some of the mid-tones using a scraper and burnisher, thing is even when it looks like you’re getting somewhere it’s so hard to tell how it’s going to print!

The idea behind this print is not only to draw from my visit to the JJarrold Museum but highlight the lengths it can take to produce an original print.  All the machines and presses on show have a specific purpose and it’s fascinating to know that they were in use every day but nowadays many would be surprised to know how it took a team of people to make sure the morning headlines were physically printed and on the streets between 11.45 and 12.15 every day. (Even the fact that the machines are still functioning and being maintained is a real indication of quality engineering!)

Basically I felt that this image suited working with mezzotint as it involves manipulating the metal surface and being quite methodical. It’s going to be quite a challenge but i’m particularly inspired by Carol Wax’s sewing machines and want to continue developing a wider range of tones and even experiment with mixed media!

This what I have done so far, slow progress but watch this space!!

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