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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Redux

March 13, 2015 , In: Inspiration, Metalsmithing, Studio
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I was delighted to read Jenny’s wonderful miniature book post yesterday. I love collaborating with other artists and love the way it creates a chain of inspiration. Jenny’s use of my etched pieces was very original and now has me thinking of other ways to incorporate this technique in new ways. With this in mind I thought it might be appropriate to re-visit the post I wrote in 2013 when I first started etching while I plan my progress.
Using packing foam to float copper blanks in Edinburgh etch (ferric chloride and citric acid)

Well
my new studio has been up and running for about six weeks now and it’s finally beginning to feel like a real creative space…yep, despite having all that storage space – it’s a mess! I am trying to be good though and tidy up a bit more but it’s such a luxury to have so much space to work in that I can’t help flexing my creative muscles and spreading out all over the place.

 Aside from the space, the biggest joy is that the studio has a dedicated water supply (rather than the bathroom I was using and wrecking before) which means that I can now get down to some of the things that were just impractical before.

Back in October of 2012 I went on an etching course and last week I finally got my kit set up and spent many hours playing to my hearts content. The picture above is some of my pieces floating in their etch bath attached to pieces of packing foam – one of the tips picked up on the course and a great idea as the floats double up as handles too.

I decided the best way to get my hand back in was to just go over what I’d learnt in October and I started off with one of the easiest resists – craft outline stickers…

Commercial craft stickers

These are cheap and so simple to use and they produced really strong well defined edges. These were etched for just 45 minutes although I didn’t stick the top one on its float properly and it fell off, but even so it produced a pretty good etch sitting on the bottom of the bath.

Sticker resist etching

The only  down side to these is that there is a limited subject matter available – for me anyway but this is not really a problem when you have a die cutting machine just waiting to be put to work making your own vinyl stickers…next on the list and another post I’m sure.

After that I moved onto PNP (Press and Peel) photo transfer paper as my resist. With this you photocopy your designs onto the blue paper or film and then press it on to your metal using an iron.

Image transfer with PNP paper

There is a bit more guess work with this in getting the timing and heat right and making sure you don’t get lint or bubbles between the two. If you can get that right though you can also get some really good clean etches…

Original French Art Deco design
Japanese heron

One of the things I like about PNP is that you can etch very intricate and pictorial designs and I’ve been collecting images for this ever since the course and couldn’t wait to use them but, this is where I learnt some new lessons. While I was merrily photocopying my images it completely escaped me that when they were transferred from the PNP they would be reversed and that when the copper was etched  would be negatives of the original image – doh!

That’s not necessarily a disaster though as with this piece for example… although the original black and white image is very strong I still like the way it has come out in reverse and for a jewellery piece I think it works well – I love the fine detailing.

Original French Art Deco design

I’ve also used alcohol ink in my work for the first time on these pieces. I wanted there to be a differentiation between this and my bronze clay work and I like the subtlety of the finish the inks give.

On this next piece – an illustration by Aubrey Beardsley (not the Lone Ranger…) the negative image had a more, shall we say interesting effect…

Aubrey Beardsley royalty free image before and after etching

It’s rather odd and this ‘oddness’ has been exacerbated by the fact that I decided to go for broke and see what it looked liked domed. The reflection in the photograph has given is a three dimensional effect and while it’s rather strange there is something about it that draws me to it and who knows…it may well generate ideas of it’s own in the future.

And then of course there are some images that just don’t work like this lovely image of a group of mermaids (apologies for poor quality) which is just too detailed to see clearly in the negative.

Royalty free mermaid image from Dover Books

 

Negative etch

However, even this has a silver lining and since the etch is clean and deep I am hoping that I can use it as a texture plate with metal clay – much as old illustrations were made from etched plates.

Fortunately for me photo editing software allows me to flip images and invert them to negatives before I transfer them so in future, I can choose how I want them to be – note to self to do just that!

So all in all I had great fun with this, learnt a few lessons and continue to broaden my knowledge and skills base. There may even been a little collaboration between myself and another AE colleague coming out of this but you’ll just have to wait and see what that is.

Back to 2015 
Well now you know what that collaboration was and just how successful it was and many thanks to Jenny for that. I’ve also used the etching technique to use for our current spring COM theme to produce these hare pieces transferring this image to the copper using the PNP method.
 
Running hare silhouette

 

Etched running hare

With this piece I transferred the image using PNP but the added the simple moon and ground detail with a sharpie marker so you can achieve more detailed and original images by combining resist methods.

Chasing the Moon

I hope you found this interesting and if anyone has any etching tips they’d like to share, as always they will be gratefully accepted.

 

 

Lesley Watt

Lesley Watt started making jewellery in 2009 with a handful of hobby store beads but quickly discovered art beads and became completely smitten. Taking courses in metal clay, metal smithing, enamelling and etching she began making her own components in 2011 and has never looked back. Always looking to try new things she has branched out into ceramics, bead embroidery, mixed media and textiles.
  1. Reply

    I enjoyed rereading this post and seeing the update. I adore the hares too!

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