I’ve cracked it! Using acetone to transfer laserprint onto aluminium plate ready for #etching. Plates on the left in this photo the peeled-off prints on the right. What made the difference to getting success every time?
1. Preparing the plates with 1200 wet and dry emery paper then a bit of a polish with chrome cleaner – wash off the remains of the chrome cleaner with white Spirit and wipe clean.
2. Pouring the acetone based nail-polish remover (Must contain Isopropyl Alcohol) on the back of the paper rather than onto the plate and pressing the paper onto that.
3. Smoothing and pressing with a bamboo baren and then removing the paper before it has dried and stuck to the plate.
After my initial experiments with the etching process, I started today to apply what I have learned to my Exmoor tree images.
(See previous etching blog for my first steps in this process).
I opened one of my images into Photoshop, increased the contrast, applied the “Posterise” function and then deleted the background elements I didn’t want to print. The image was then flipped horizontally, and resized to fit the plate. This was then printed on the laser printer. The polished plate was cleaned thoroughly with white spirit, then covered in nail polish remover before applying the printed image, resting gently on the plate while the acetone softens the toner. Then a few layers of newspaper are placed on top of the image before adding a weight and leaving for a couple of hours. Once the weight hs been removed the now dry plate has the paper printed image stuck to it. The paper needs to be soaked off in warm soapy water and gently rubbed away leaving the toner image on the plate. To add some texture to the sky I brushed on some vegetable oil (Thanks Tony Martin – see reference – for this tip).
With the addition of Sodium Biosulfite to the Salt/Copper Sulfite solution to aid the etching process (See Reference), the plate was placed in the solution for 10 minutes, gently brushing away the copper deposits with a feather.
The etched plate was cleaned and used to produce relief prints. However the backround printed as intensely as the tree. (Print on the left, plate on the right).
After a number of trials it became clear this could be controlled with the stiffness of the paper.
It turns out that 200g/sm Inkjet/laser photopaper (Matte) works superbly. Very rewarding morining’s work.
“When I developed my copper sulfate etch in 1992, I realized that mixing sodium bisulfate into the bath to keep aluminium hydroxide from forming, was actually making a weak hydrochloric acid that produced hydrogen in reaction with the metal, which gently lifted the pure copper particles out of the etched lines.”
Today was bringing together my photography and my relief printing.
Starting with a B&W photo with a lot of contrast – An old oak door in Ludlow, Shropshire:
Resized to 150mm on the longest edge to fit my aluminium sheet and printed on a laser printer onto glossy inkjet paper.
Next cut the paper to size, spread nailpolish remover (acetone+alcohol) onto the plate and quickly place, not press, the print onto the plate face down.
Leave to let the toner soften, then put paper towel on top of the image and put a second flat plate on top and weight down (an old iron doorstop).
Leave for a couple of hours.
Now take the plate with paper print attached and soak in soapy water to remove the paper. If all has worked – and it had – the toner remains on the aluminium.
The etching solution is 50g Copper Sulfate (amazon), 100g Salt in 500ml of water.
Cover the back of the plate with duct tape to protect it.
OUTSIDE – put the plate into the etching solution for 5 mins, gently brushing away the copper that gets deposited on the plate where the exposed (no toner) aluminium dissolves in the copper chloride. Lots of heat, gas and smells.
Remove plate, rinse well in lots of water and clean with nailpolish remover to remove the toner.
Lastly ink the plate as for linocuts and put through the roller press with fine Japanese paper and use a felt mat on top of the paper.
Whilst there is room for improvement (in the quality of the initial laserprint, the toner transfer process and experimenting with etching time), I am encouraged enough with the outcome to explore this further – especially for atmospheric landscape images.
(See blog of 7th Jan 2019 for further developments)
A couple more hours work on the Bideford Black pigment, grinding, seiving and then mixing with linseed oil using a Muller. I was then able to print the final layer on my Guernsey Rocks print. This Bideford Black was much more black than the previous batch made from paler rock – bit it still had a brownish tinge – but appeared quite black when printed. I’m very pleased with the overall result of this three-block print.
Today I got to make a good quantity of ink using #pigment collected from the North Deveon coastline (Thank you John Byrne for being our guide). Up till now I have made small quantities and used them right away. Now I have got hold of some new empty tubes, from Lawrence art supplies, and can store the ink I make – that’s the plan and it seems to have started OK.
Red pigment from North devon being made into ink
We needed to get out for a walk this morning so went to Sand Point near Weston Super Mare and headed north towards Middle Hope. The beach there was strewn with driftwood and we were able to retrieve some good looking pieces that I’ll use for sculptures, printmaking and – still life photography. Results will be posted on this blog in the coming weeks.
I loved the rocks on Guernsey’s coast – especially as they were lit in the low sun of evening – strong shapes and deep shadows. So I have printed my first layer in grey and cut the second tile to overprint in black. This is an exciting stage in the process but will have to wait until after the first coffee of the day.
OK – so coffee done; I inked up the second tile, checked the registration (alignment) against the first and did a test print with much better results than I had expected. Just a few stray ridges to cut away and then test print again before finally printing onto some nice thin Japanese paper – part of a selection pack from Lawrences Art Supplies.
And the original inspiration for this print …..