3. Line Etchings on Japan Papers

Joe Thomson, Artist, 03.29.2013, p1 of 1


The dimensional flexibility of "big ART's" scalability allows for all of the etching process techniques to be applied and the safe use of etchant to be used in the etching of abstract designs.

The preferred etchant techniques used to produce colored abstract prints lies in the adoption of non-toxic methods of print making on copper plates, 6"x8", employ the photo-based, imagon exposure technique to selectively develop the abstract line drawing. This is then etched in the benign, environmentally safe, vertical bath of liquid, ferric chloride etchant.

Other techniques of etching have been explored like "dry point", where a sharp needle is used to hand- draw an abstract line drawing on the copper plate directly. The traditional use of nitric acid as an etchant is avoided because of its toxicity and personal danger in a home environment, without effective air ventilation and other personal safety, handling provisions in place.

The etched copper plate, say 5"x7", once it is prepared, is washed and dried, then inked, by pushing color etching ink with a "hand-spreader" into the recessed lines of the copper plate. The remainder of the flat surface of the plate is cleaned with a rough "tarlatan" cloth, using a swift, wiping motion, to allow a further contrast of color to be placed on the plate.

The artist's color choices will harmonize the color chosen for the etched lines, the colors chosen for the flat surface of the plate and the color of the Japan paper that will ultimately be printed from the intaglio copper plate in the hand-press. The artistic preferences of the "big ART" etching color choices were to layer multiple colors directly on the flat, copper surface of the etched plate itself in order to create a "sfumato" effect, without resorting to a meticulous, painstaking registration of accurately melding three individual, primary colors for a pleasing effect.

The bed of the Griffin, 16" wide, hand-press, is now used to transfer the copper plate image to the Japan paper which requires to be softened by delicately spraying the Japan sheet with a water mist. The Japan paper, is passed through the press, to receive the color impression, but reversed, from the etching on the plate.

The delicate, light texture of the Japan paper, as a product of the Japanese National treasure preservation and protected artisan activity, will age gracefully beneath its "sfumato" abstract image, until the paper crackles on display, in its floating frame and speaks to you with its own voice!

The two etching examples shown in the photo gallery for this Art Folio #3 are the color etching prints entitled: "Snow on Cedars, the branch road taken" and "Skating on thin ice".