Acrylic Floor Polish Resist on Steel Plates - Hard Ground and Crisco Lift / by Anna Olafsson

I have recently been experimenting with acrylic floor polish as a resist. I have heard a lot about Klear being a good quality alternative resist, but as it was proving tricky to source this here in the UK, I tried out a brand that is readily available here - Astonish Wood Floor Polish (Tangerine and Cinnamon) - around £1.29 for 1L.

This is a milky-looking liquid polish which can be poured on to the plate. I applied 3 coats of polish over the space of 36 hours to allow each layer to air dry fully. I am not too sure about the ratio of acrylic to waxes in this product - if there is enough strength in this formula to withstand the electro-etching process. It certainly dried to a reasonable hardness on the plate with an initial blast of hot air from the hairdryer (hard ground line drawing only - don’t use any heat with the crisco lift, else your drawing will melt!).

Having recently tried out the Lascaux Acrylic Hard Resist I was not sure if I would enjoy the drawing process, but I was surprised at how good it felt to draw through this resist when using it as a hard ground. I didn’t darken the surface of the plate and I found it quite easy to see where I had drawn my lines. From this point of view it is a good alternative resist which doesn’t disrupt my drawing process.

I found the recipe for the Crisco Lift on This method allows you to achieve a painterly effect on the plate, similar to a sugar lift, but in this case I was experimenting with using electrotint to provide areas of tone rather than rosin. I painted the mixture onto a degreased plate, put it into the fridge for 20 minutes, then poured 3 successive layers of the floor polish over the drawing to mask out areas I didn’t want to etch. Once the resist had dried completely I wiped off the grease to reveal my drawing and degreased the plate in a salt and vinegar bath before electro-etching it in ferrous sulphate solution.

I didn’t stop out any lines, only adding some oil pastel to the edges of the Sun and Moon plate to stop the resist disintegrating completely. In hindsight I might have let this continue as the effect on the crisco lift plate is particularly interesting!

The timings for each etch were as follows:

Sun and Moon - hard ground line drawing: etched at 1V (60 min total)

15 mins - middle holding up OK, edges deteriorating. Added oil pastel as resist. lines etching well!

30 mins - foul bite beginning in middle of plate - lines widening?

45 mins - lines widening more on moon drawing than on sun

60 mins - ground breaking down slightly around lines. Decided to stop the etch and test the lines here.

Runner Bean - Crisco Lift: etched at 1V (60 min total) -

15 mins - ground at edges of plate disintegrating

30 mins - slightly more disintegration of the ground at edges

45 mins - added chinagraph pencil as stop out (detail on leaves and stems)

60 mins - resist continues to disintegrate yet adds an interesting electrotinted effect to the edges, almost like it has been sprayed on. Chinagraph pencil might have been added earlier to make more of a difference in textures on the plate.

I think it is well worth trying this floor polish again as a resist, knowing that it will result in a gradual deterioration of the image, which could be used to great effect. I didn’t remove the ground from the plate before printing so there is a little texture added from the ground itself in this case. Some water leaked onto the runner bean image from underneath the contact strip as I left it to dry at an angle, causing some rust on the plate, which actually printed rather well.

I have a new floor polish to try - Holloway House Quick Shine Floor Finish (about £12 for 800ml) - and will see how this one fares, as it has a higher percentage of acrylic in the mix.

See gallery below for the results of the process and the prints which I took of these plates yesterday at the DCA Print Studio, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland.