“Quick Shine” Acrylic Floor Polish as an Etching Resist / by Anna Olafsson

Over the past few weeks I have continued to experiment with acrylic floor polish resists on steel plates. One brand which has been particularly effective as a hard ground is Quick Shine Hard Floor Finish (800ml) - available here at Lakeland.

An excellent drawing ground for etching plates can be obtained using this product. I have yet to try staining the ground with india ink, as lines are reasonably visible on the plate despite it being transparent when dry. Once your initial lines have etched it is easy to see what you have on the plate so far. It feels pretty good to draw through too - less drag on the needle than with other grounds I have tried, with no flaking.

Crisco and Chinagraph Pencil Lift - Underpass

I attempted a Crisco and chinagraph pencil lift with the Quick Shine ground, following the success I had with the Astonish floor polish. Unfortunately I left a very thin layer of grease on the plate, which later made it very difficult to remove the floor polish in order to expose the lines for the etch. I added 2 layers of polish in total, so in future experiments I will try applying just a single layer of polish, as this ground is highly resistant to the electrolytic action.

I scrubbed away at the image with a paintbrush and vinegar prior to each etch, to make sure at least some of the ground lifted. Areas of the resist then flaked away to leave marks which were less delicate than the ones I had painted on (see images below for comparison). There may have been some resurfacing of the underlying grease as a result of this scrubbing. This excess grease may have contributed to the lower amperage and slowing down of the etch.

Amperage readings at the beginning of each stage of the etch (1V):

15 mins - 0.83A

30 mins - 0.03A (Interference from grease? Applied rubbing alcohol to the plate before the next stage)

45 mins - 1.0A (scratched and scrubbed image to encourage breakdown of the resist)

60 mins - 1.15A (repeated above process once more)

75 mins - 0.11A (Grease again? Left plate in tank for final stage. Amperage at end of etch = 0.45A)

The plate is a little rough, but there are some interesting areas in the printed result. I think it is worth repeating this experiment to see if a thicker layer of grease with a single layer of Quick Shine will suffice. This should allow the resist to be easily lifted and a more delicate line to be obtained.

Underpass. Prepared plate (pre-etch) - thin layer of crisco and chinagraph pencil applied

Underpass. Prepared plate (pre-etch) - thin layer of crisco and chinagraph pencil applied

Underpass - printed close-up. Rough lines/areas of tone. Not quite as painterly as I had hoped!

Underpass - printed close-up. Rough lines/areas of tone. Not quite as painterly as I had hoped!

Hard Ground Line Drawing

I applied two layers of the Quick Shine polish, 12 hours apart, leaving the final layer to dry for 24 hours before drawing into the surface of the plate with a fine needle. I did not use any resists on top of this ground as I drew in the image gradually. I have seen a few recipes online for acrylic floor polish stop-out varnishes which I will try out in my future experiments.

One thing that I noticed in particular with this plate was that the amperage reading was fairly high whilst the plate was etching. I believe this was the effect of there being little to no grease present to slow down the initial stages of the etch.

The lines seem to be cleaner and deeper than those I have obtained using a traditional liquid hard ground, as the acrylic resist does not break down as quickly at the edges of the lines. There was no foul bite present on the plate either. This is clearly a very effective resist for line drawing.

At 1V the amperage readings at the beginning of each stage were as follows:

15 mins - 0.55A (face and gothic tower - initial lines)

30 mins - 0.70A (one or two lines merging in the stone arches, see below)

45 mins - 0.78A (added Angel from the Book of Kells)

60 mins - 0.86A (initial lines widening slightly, added Apostles in background)

75 mins - 0.97A (added Kells pattern circle)

Hard ground lines. Mid-etch (30 minute lines). Looking fairly crisp.

Hard ground lines. Mid-etch (30 minute lines). Looking fairly crisp.

Summary/Notes:

Both plates were printed without removing the ground, which would normally be removed with Mystrol. Once this has been removed there will be a tone on the plate which can then be burnished back to white.

The plates printed well on Hahnemuhle Etching paper (300gsm). A very soft printing paper such as this will reveal the more narrow, deep lines the electro-etching process creates.

I liked the different weights of line achieved by drawing the image in stages on the line drawing plate. This plate printed well, and 75 minutes seems to give a sufficiently strong line at this plate size and voltage.

There was no stopping out on the Underpass plate - just some variation in tone where the plate had been scrubbed at during the process. I will try this technique again to see if I can get a more painterly line.

I may work back into these plates, perhaps with sugarlift, soft ground or electrotint to darken/create some more areas of tone.

Scroll down to see the plates and the printed results!