Jenny’s Printmaking Techniques

Drawing with the etching needle

My etchings are inspired by the flowers that grow throughout the year in my one-acre garden. I often collect them and take them back to my studio, where I will complete preliminary drawings and watercolours, to give me some direction for the etchings. First I put an acid-resistant ground on the plate. Then I draw through the ground with an etching needle, exposing the copper underneath. This is then placed in an acid bath where the acid bites down into the exposed areas to produce the etched lines on the plate.

Aquatint stopping out

The next step is powdering aquatint on the cleaned plate and heating it. This will produce the watercolour effect on the print. By a series of ‘stopping out’ with varnish and re-immersing in acid I create the differing shades of light to dark that I wish to achieve. The longer the plate is exposed to the acid, the darker the shade will be. Sometimes things like pieces of lace or leaves might be pressed into the the acid-resistant surface to produce different textures.

Inscribed lines and stopping out

Heating aquatint on the plate

Inking up the plate

Printing the plate

The finished plate is inked by hand, using a piece of cotton cloth wrapped around my finger. I use Charbonel high pigment etching ink, working each colour into the lines and aquatint areas. All the colours are worked into the plate together, to form the final completed, inked plate. This process can take up to two hours, depending on the size and complexity of the etched plate. Having made sure that the surface of the plate is clean where it needs to be and free of smudged areas,  the plate is laid on the bed of my etching press and and gently covered with the acid-free printing paper that I have chosen specifically for each print. Inking up the plate is repeated for each print made, so every print in an edition is a unique object.

Applying gold leaf

The finished print can then be embellished using different techniques. It may be applying patterned gesso, a woodblock print, or areas of waterclour. And often I will add decorative elements of 22 carat, gold leaf to enhance the final image.