Tag Archives: rocking

Mezzotint proof!

1 Jul

I have finally taken a first proof of my latest mezzotint! I Have spent a few months gradually working the plate as I didn’t want to rush it, especially as it’s the largest mezzotint I have done (approx. 30X30cm)

The plate was originally rocked with a 100 gauge rocker about 20 times. Although it is advised to rock more than this, the plate is a bit thinner than you would normally use so I didn’t want it to bow in the middle, and also it’s long winded.. so 20 suits me just fine! I also allowed the rocker marks to show around the edges as I am really keen to promote the hand-made / hand-pulled print and this is obviously a key feature for mezzotinting!

When proofing a mezzotint I usually expect to be fairly disappointed with the result as it is so hard to tell if you have burnished enough. Also every time you print the plate the burrs break down slightly because it has quite a delicate surface.  This is why it is best not to proof too many times because you will only get up to 20/30 prints maximum, depending on how many times it was rocked! As this was rocked only 20 times I expect it to be an edition of 20 with a couple of ‘Artist Proofs!’.

I am really pleased with this as a first proof (Sorry image to follow – technical difficulties!) so I will only need to define a few areas before editioning it and getting it ready for this year’s Norwich Print Fair! I have slightly over wiped the centre of the plate as well so hopefully the next proof will be much clearer!

 

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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Rocking a Mezzotint

19 Aug

I started preparing a copper plate for a new mezzotint this week.  This process is quite long winded and involves passing a ‘rocker’ across the plate in at least 20 different directions. 

Rocking a mezzotint

Rocking a mezzotint

The rocker is a curved tool with tiny teeth that are designed to leave a row of dots on the metal surface that will hold ink. 

Rocking a mezzotint

Rocking a mezzotint

By ‘rocking’ the plate in several directions the surface becomes rough and covered in burs that will now hold ink and if printed at this stage the plate should print a velvet black.

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To create the image the rough burs are then scraped away and burnished to create lighter tones that will hold less ink.

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Below is a reminder of my willow tree mezzotint plate and the print taken from it.  This was one of my first successful mezzotints, and i’m glad to have finally got round to trying this method again! (however long it may take me!)

Willow tree Mezzotint in progress, this shows the mere foundations of where i've started to map out the image.  At this angle it looks like it's printable but there's a lot more work to do before it can be proofed!

Willow tree Mezzotint in progress, this shows the mere foundations of where i’ve started to map out the image. At this angle it looks like it’s printable but there’s a lot more work to do before it can be proofed!

 

It's almost there, I just want to define the edges a bit more and add some more highlights.

It’s almost there, I just want to define the edges a bit more and add some more highlights.