Mezzotint Printmaking – Start to Finish. Systems of Control, Part 1

Mezzotint Printmaking – Start to Finish. Systems of Control, Part 1

Hey, welcome back to Diode press, I’m graham.
I first wanted to thank you all for subscribing to the channel. I just hit 400 subscribers,
which is just awesome. I really appreciate you leaving comments down below, and leaving
feedback on the videos. Also if there is anything you want to see more in detail let me know
down below and in the next video I’ll try and cover it, because sometimes I cut things
out for time. And if you haven’t subscribed, make sure you do because I have a lot of cool
projects coming up in the comings months. So todays video is going to be a mezzotint
print . I participate in a print exchange each year with 24 other mezzotint artists.
The only restriction is the print size, and it has to be mezzotint. So I decided to make
the print on a small copper plate. So thanks for watching and subscribing, and lets jump
into the video. The first step for this project is to shape
my copper plate. This piece of copper was actually a scrap cut off from a different
print. I knew I wanted to play with debossing on this print, and I wanted to make try and
break away from a standard horizontal image. So I marked my cut lines with a etching needle,
and then use a saw with a fine metal cutting blade to make quick work of the copper. Cutting the copper left some nasty sharp jagged
edges, so before I could start using the mezzotint rocker, I had to clean them up a bit or I
would chip all sorts of teeth on the rocker. Now using a sharpie I mark off the pattern
that I’m going to rock on the plate. I rock one direction, rotate to the next line and
rock again, going over each direction twice. And a couple hours later for me, or 10 seconds
for you, the plate is fully rocked and it’s time to really get the edges ready to print.
Since it’s a narrow plate with lots of curves, I files a pretty shallow angle so when I print
it does not tear or buckle the paper around those edges. After filing I use 600 & 1000
grit sandpaper wrapped on a block to really polish the edge. For this print I let the shape of the plate
dictate a bit of the image. I started with a rough sketch, and then moved up to a full
size rough sketch to play with the composition. Finally I made a more refined drawing, and
then scanned flipped, and darkened it so I can easily transfer to my plate. I taped down the plate to a sheet of paper so it wouldn’t slip around, then using transfer
paper I drew the image onto the plate. The white transfer paper shows up really well
on the copper plate. Now I scrapped and burnished in my image onto
the plate. I started on one end and worked to the other trying not to disturb my transfer
lines too much. Since mezzotint plates are just a field of copper burrs, there is not
a lot of area for the transferred image to stick too. For this plate since it’s so narrow, I used my smallest scraper throughout. This definitely
takes time to do, but it’s the only way I could get the detail I was looking for. So now that the plate is fully scraped and
burnished I move on to the next piece of the print. I want these three objects coming out
of the plate to be debossed into the paper, so I use a thin sheet of plastic and transfer
my sketch onto it. I used a small mirror as a guide since it happened to be the same size. Once they were all traced I cut them out with
an exacto blade. I lined them up on the plate again and did a detail pass on the part that
overlays on top of the plate. The plastic will deboss the paper, as well as block out
the plate where it overlaps. The last step before printing is to create
a template to line up the plate, and the three objects. After drawing all my dimension lines
I tape down a sheet of plastic onto the paper, line it all up again and hot glue each object
onto the plastic. Now everything is set and I’m ready to ink
the plate and run a print. So make sure to subscribe to the channel and the conclusion
of this project will be up soon! Let me know in the comments what you think so far!


  • KnitOutTheJams says:

    So awesome. Seriously cannot wait for the next vid

  • Sandra Earle-Russo says:

    Totally enjoyed this. Love the way you told everything but speeded up the cleaning of edges etc. Only complaint (not really) is I have to wait for the next vid and I want it now… I want to see the pulled print and what happens with the extra bits

  • Sacha Nixon says:

    just this year I have been doing mezzotint, just love the technique, your videos inspire me to try different approach to the matrix. 🙂 keep up the great posts!

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