Sunday, July 19, 2015

Etching Class at Worcester Art Museum

"Rhubarb" etching by Joseph Rice

This past week I took the one-day etching class at WorcesterArt Museum with instructor Randy LeSage.

Since it wasn't a full day, I expected an overview of the process, maybe a few test marks, etc. Boy, was I surprised when we all completed copper etching plates and a number of finished prints.

Sketchbook and copper plate

I tossed a couple of my sketchbooks in my tote bag, so I was able to use a drawing of my rhubarb plants as the basis for my first attempt at etching. I was somewhat familiar with the printmaking process (in theory, at least), and was comfortable with etching tool as I do etched gold leaf with for my reverse glass paintings.

The plates were prepared for us with cleaning and application of ground coat to etch through. After transferring a design, we scratched through the ground, then dipped the plates in an acid solution to etch the lines into the copper. Some of us repeated this more than once, to enhance and refine our designs.

Inking the plates was more time consuming (and messier) than I thought it would be, but we quickly got the hang of it. (I made a note to myself that this is an art form where a studio assistant would be a big help for this grunt work!).

Instructor Randy LeSage at the inking table

It was exciting to see the first print off the press. In spite of today's computer generated production, there is something to be said for the artist and artisan aspects of traditional printmaking. Thanks to Randy, each student had complete success with this class.

If you have ever thought about trying this, make sure you sign up for this class the next time it is offered.

A student pulls her first print
I wound up with eight final prints

Removal of the ground after first print, and a change of ink colors gave a variety of final prints.