Waiting for Beckett

Finally!! After a few false starts I got it done. Barely in time. I was in the studio till 8pm finishing it off last week. I had to get it done in time to put in under the flatteners to be ready to deliver it this week. Skin. Of. Teeth.

I had two other plates for the Strumpet City show but in each case thought better of it and changed to a new one. In the end I did get the effect I wanted.

The third plate took the best of the previous two and blended them. I had a notion in mind. A very modern view of Dublin rendered in a very classical print traditional technique. Finally I settled on softground with drypoint.


Inking up for a test print

I also got very fussy about edges. There’s always a bit of discussion about this. In many modern prints its considered to be less of an issue, but  best practice suggests that the edges of the plate should be highly polished.

Aside from the practical consideration of producing a clean and controllable edge there ate also soe aesthetic considerations. A polished edge also gives that much desired bevelled indent around the image. then there is also a decision to make about the corners. Sharp or rounded? this has become very optional as an artistic decision, however originally it was most likely done to protect the paper and press roller from potential sharp corners.

in any event, to polish the edges properly the vertical part must be polished smooth first and then the back edge a little, but most attention given to the front edge to make sure there are no unwanted ink reservoirs – a particular risk is pitting, as well as an extra deep groove where a line meets the edge of the image. to start with wet & dry paper can be used, but then it needs to be polished hard with the curved stem of a burnisher. To be honest at this stage a bit if heft helps, so if like me you’re pretty weedy and some kind soul with a stronger arm offers help  – let’s be having it!

Polishing the plate edges with a burnisher

Polishing the plate edges with a burnisher

Finally after many test prints and additional workings with Drypoint, the darks were dark and the contrasts established. It was ready to print.

Then for one of the hardest parts of printmaking. Measuring the paper!! This is generally agreed to be a prime pain. The paper must be right angles and the correct size in relation to the plate, and the plate has to be positioned within the paper space correctly on each pu of the press. To achieve this a template is made and the measurements marked up on a thin sheet of acetate. The plate can then be positioned in its spot and the paper laid over it in the correct position for printing.

The Template

The Template


Paper trimmed to size

Paper trimmed to size

The plate is inked up, I use a squeegie. then Scrim to make sure the ink is in the grooves. Then a final polish with a ball of nylon lining fabric. the paper is all torn down to size ready for soaking and printing.

Ready to ink up

Ready to ink up

Paper ready for printing

Paper ready for printing

And then at last at last at last – it is FINISHED.

The finished print.

The finished print.

I sign it and give it a title, it gets delivered to the gallery.

Medium: Softground Etching with Drypoint.

Title: Waiting for Beckett

Edition of 30.

That’s next week gone……..


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