Practice 2: Ferric Chloride Day 2

So, I printed that first plate. It was a bit blotchy. A total of 38 minutes was too much, but it was clear that the 5 minutes and thereabout etches got a nice shade of grey. I hadn’t been very systematic but it was a ball park figure. The stop-out pens worked well, gave clean lines. The airbrush sprayed on stop-out gave a lovely soft effect. The wax crayon was textured slightly. The litho pencil was a bit faint. So…

Made a plan for a test plate, wrote it down, had breakfast to think it over, trying not to make a stupid mistake.

Test Plate

Opened a new copper plate, and filed the edges. Took the Mylar off one side and spent ages trying to get it off the other side before deciding there wasn’t any. De-greased it in soya sauce. Sprayed it with airbrushed aquatint, but didn’t get a uniform layer. This bit is hard. Left it to dry.

Cut a backing sheet of sticky backed plastic, and 17 strips of one cm each. Planned to remove one strip each minute, so getting from 0- 18 minutes in intervals of one minute.

I started, and was surprised at how deeply bitten the plate was even after one minute, so decided to half the intervals. So ended up with 0- 9. 5 minutes.

Printed it, and observed that the  short times at the start were quite distinct- 30 seconds was quite different to one minute, and the stages up to about 3 minutes were clear to see. After that there was no clear boundary, and the colour just got gradually darker, though not absolutely black. Two or three possible reasons for that:

1. My ink was very thick- I added some aqua wash oil and it got blacker.

2. The aquatint layer wasn’t uniform- where it was thicker, the black was more dense.

3. Perhaps the immersion was too short this time, but I feel it shouldn’t be much longer.

Anyway, established that the intervals are more critical at the early stages.

Aquatinted copper plate 1 timing
Aquatinted copper plate 1 timing

IMG_3671 IMG_3670

Inked it again with Charbonnel inks and wash oil to see if the blacks would get more black. They did. It was looking like my ferric was strong, as I was getting blacks quite fast. The baumeter seemed to be telling me nothing.


Made the following list of key times:


30 seconds

1 minute

2 minutes

3 minutes

6 minutes

10 minutes


Also noted I should file the plate away from the front, as there was a decidedly hard edge.

Should have changed my intervals after about 6 minutes.

Should have stopped and had a coffee and thought it through….







Author: chrisocaprintingblog

Studying visual arts part-time with the Open College of the Arts

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