A row of brownstones: process part II

Here is the third proof I pulled after completing my line etches in the acid bath on Tuesday. The first proof was a mess, on account of excess acid and water trapped beneath the contact paper that held the strips together throughout the etching process. I removed it, cleaned the plates, and re-joined them with fresh contact paper.

My second proof was over-wiped, and looked frail. Third time was the charm, and I’m really pleased with the result of this experiment so far. The spaces between the plates can be wiped to a degree that the interior edges of the plates leave fine lines rather than single heavy ones— that was an unexpected and delightful result!

Next phase will be to etch tonal shades using the aquatint method. I’ve already applied my rosin dust and melted it (with help!). Masking out the sky and two windows will be done before my next studio session.

sketch of the tonal shades I will apply to the brownstones using aquatint

Above is my sketch for a range of tones in the building façades. This will serve as a map for blocking out areas before each successive dip in the acid. The longer any given area is in the bath (cumulative), the darker it will be when inked and printed. This image is made up of six layers, which I’ll reference as I mask more and more of the image, finally leaving only the darkest areas.

Once range of tones is complete, the next phase will be burnishing. It’s a technique involving small metal tool to gradually soften the tones in specific areas— for example to achieve gradations, or striations that would be too fiddly to mask. It also results in more subtle variations, without hard edges.

Above is an image of the full plate at this pre-tonal phase. You can see how all the scratches sustained by the strips of scrap metal really do hold ink! A few are pretty dominant, and I may burnish them down— especially the one in the second-from-left plate that is really confusing the roof line, creating an X. But we’ll see how things look after my aquatint tones are in place.

More next week— stay tuned!

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