Friday, October 12, 2012

Miami Visit and More Copper Sulfate Experiments

I had the privilege last Friday to take a looks at the Art Dept, particularly printmaking, of course! at Miami U in Oxford, OH (I know, their name is confusing). I was given a tour by Prof Ellen Price, who is currently on sabbatical. They have a lovely program with two separate printshops, *gasp!* for intro and advanced students. There are also 4 grad students and if merited, they even get to teach printmaking!! *extra gasp*

Here is an amazing large, red etching press, made in Seattle (forget the manufacturer) Never seen one of these- boy is that thing built!

Wee press

Nice Reliance iron handpress. They actually use it! But mostly for relief

Overview of the shop with Ellen and a grad.

Awesome aquatint box that a grad just built!

the solvent, acid, and everything nasty room

here is the extra-special room for advanced folks

graining sinks of the world!

pretty Takaches

good ole litho press

In all of that, we decided that I could take home a litho stone right then and there (a nice grad had it all ready to go). So it was hand-delivered to my trunk, and I get to come back and print it with students in the spring! So exciting- I really can't wait. Besides the fact that I haven't had access to stone litho for almost 2 yrs (was having withdrawal).

In the meantime, I also got to chat about saline (copper) sulfate etching for zinc. Now that I'm teaching my intermediate aquatint class at Tiger Lily, I had a little freak-out that it might not work for Triple Aquatint (imitation mezzotint). I'd been hearing issues with spottiness from the Asst Prof at Smith College. SO! Last weekend was full of experiments.

First I did a test strip of the bath we'd been using (goodness there is nothing more boring than making test strips!!). And boy was it weak! I'd been priming and attempting to recycle the stuff with some dry acid (sodium bisulfate) and more copper sulfate but apparently it wasn't enough.

weak solution

So next I mixed up a brand-new solution to do more test strips. And this is what that looks like (30 sec-15 min)

1st test with new solution

But boy that still looks really spotty and kind of crummy. Freak out! But wait- I printed it again.

1st test reprinted

Silly me, I just over-wiped it! I think the copper sulfate etched plates are very easy to over-wipe, as it actually darkens the color of the plate, the longer the aquatint. So it fools you!

Next I did the big test of trying out the Triple aquatint. I guessed times, using the chart from Prof Evan Summer, adjusting them to a bit less as this etch is faster.

Triple aquatint with a few tones scraped out

And ta-da, here is my test! I think it works pretty well. Just a bit of spottiness, but acceptable. I had four students doing this all at once the other evening, out in the dark with flashlights! But they all got through. The plates looked pretty good, except for a few with light spots that must have had a bit much spray. We will see how scraping goes next week. Also, boy did we power through and use up those baths! That is my next frontier- figuring out just how to recycle the solution. The student at Miami said they just mixed up a new batch. The official website says to add just as much copper sulfate as originally added, no salt, plus enough dry acid until it recycles itself (I do notice that the copper particles absorb back into the solution overnight).

So I did this and tried it on a poor unsuspecting student (terrible, are't I?). But I had him check it right at 5 min. Wow it etched the lines fast! That was too much. I diluted it so that it should be HALF the original amount added back in.

That's all I know for now. Can't wait to see how this goes. Also doing some experiments with steel plates. Stay tuned!

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