The Results of the Acrylic Ground Experiments at the DCA Print Studio / by Anna Olafsson

On Friday last week I printed the test plates that I made with Annis Fitzhugh, who gave me a masterclass in acrylic grounds for etching. We tried two different kinds of resist - firstly the Lascaux Hard Resist, with the Lascaux Black Coating applied on top, then we tried Graphic Chemical’s water based relief ink in a pinkish-red colour. All of the plates were sanded and degreased well before application of the grounds.

Painting on the Lascaux Hard Resist, even with a soft sponge brush, gave a somewhat streaky texture. Pouring the resist on resulted in a more evenly coated plate, but it is worth experimenting to see which method you prefer. The relief ink was applied with a roller, and then all of the plates were dried on the hotplate at a low temperature. The black coating was added on top of the hard resist once dry to enable us to see our drawings, as this resist is transparent.

I did not enjoy the feeling of drawing through the Lascaux Black Coating, but it may have been due to being too liberally applied. I think that you could get used to it, and I would like to move on to using this rather than the turpentine-based liquid ground I currently use (Charbonnel Ultraflex). Annis created a soft-ground texture on one of the inked plates by rolling the plate through the press with scraps of fabric, which recorded marks beautifully. We used a variety of plastic scrapers to create lines and marks, in addition to needled lines, and also tried diluting the ink ground to create painterly marks.

At first we dried the plates for an hour or so on the hotplate, then attached contact strips and trialled one plate in the passive process. Unfortunately the ink ground only survived a few minutes of the process, and we decided to re-etch the plates on another day, to allow the grounds to dry fully. I anticipate that I will need to plan more for acrylic grounds, and leave at least a day for the ground to dry and adhere well to the plate.

I etched each plate for one hour in total, using both the passive (zinc) and active (copper) processes. See gallery below for the various prints. The resists were much more effective the second time, as they had ample time to dry. I can see myself converting to acrylic resists - I think there is a lot of potential there, especially in combination with electro-etching!

Click on the photograph below to scroll through the results.