I was privileged to be asked to contribute a piece for the Tavistock Heritage Centre Exhibition celebrating the area’s industrial heritage and contribution to the historic development of the region’s economy .
I have always been attracted by the engine houses of the mining areas of Devon & Cornwall, having had a lifetime’s interest in rocks, minerals and chemistry. So the engine house of Wheal Betsy near Tavistock was a natural choice of subject for this piece.
I took many photos with my antique camera but struggled to get a good image on the X-ray film at the time. In the end I used digital images taken on my Fuji X-H1 and created a picture in Photoshop which I then printed out on a laser printer, using my technique for transferring the image onto Metal. It seemed fitting to represent an engine house through metals that it could have extracted – Zinc and copper. Zinc is a reactive metal like Aluminiumand displaces copper from solution, so image was etched in Copper Sulfate. The final image is a relief representation and is reflective so changes with the light and with viewpoint – hard to capture in one photograph. The Zinc etched quite differently to the aluminium – very smooth in the uniform areas and able to be polished to a high level shine. Quite unexpected but I like the effect very much.
The crooked chimney is an accurate rendition of the building!
I am happy to say the piece sold on the exhibition’s first full day.
I’ll be there offering the opportunity to try Aluminium etching of a photograph. The photograph can be one we provide or one of your own – even a selfie! This is about making something permanent from the type of image that’s typically quickly forgotten or passed over. It’s about slowing down the image making process – taking 30 minutes – if we are investing that amount of time in an image we will think more carefully about the image’s significance.
Having another go with my Clevedon Pier photograph. This time I used a thinner application of oil for the sky and less etching time. The sky has come out much better, but the shorter etch time wasn’t long enough to allow me to make a decent print. So, I’ll have another go, this time with a longer etch and a similar treatment for the sky.
First prints from the aluminium etchings.
Very pleased with these first lifts – on 200gsm, glossy card. [Update! – when dry the ink rubbed off the glossy card – so I needed to spray with fixative]
Some more careful work to follow in the coming days to get the best prints out of the etchings.