Sunday, 28 June 2009

Mixing up the mordant and thinking about language

While mixing up the mordant I was thinking about the changes of language over time - the layers of language and words lost. Nick Pearson's email about layers of words and words lost, new words invented.... compressed words.

When studying Linguistics at Uni some years ago I remember that I looked at the stuff about Old English replacing a Celtish language, then Middle English, the major vowel shift/change where they shortened, then Modern English... Words were lost, new words were imported from other languages, the words for animals and meat got separated beef and cow, pig and pork....

Could the words from different times be trapped or compressed in the rock.. Which words should I choose? Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare? Then later more modern words including very recent ones like "dongle"?

Phonetics was also interesting.. listening to people making sounds and watching large, live pics of people pronouncing words and writing down the phonetic transcription... but that's a different track.

I need to try something out...

Sunday, 14 June 2009

More at the Sidney Nolan Trust

I experimented with different ways of "painting" marks onto the aluminium e.g. spit bite. I also tried wax crayon, acrylic paint and lard. I was trying to create an image that looks something like a close up image of the rock called gabro.

I etched the plate in copper sulphate saline solution - a beautiful blue liquid which fizzed when the metal was in it. Depending on the heat of the sun and how many plates had been in the mixture, it etched from between 15 seconds and, once at its slowest 15 minutes. Usually it was just a couple of minutes. This is much quicker than ferric chloride.

I like the way that you can create an aquatint like effect, greys and a really black black (see below) by leaving the plate uncovered. You don't get the same kind of unusable surface (open bite) that you get with other metals and mordants. So you can create line and tone without the need for something like a relatively safe spray aquatint of screen filler and water or a much more toxic car spray or resin coating.

I definitely want to do more with this. Liza had a really solid base of experimental research behind her and we were able to make effective use of her knowledge. Working large scale also involves close cooperative working with others in the group and this also went very well - a very supportive group.

Printmaking conditions are rather difficult due to limited space in the print barn. The press is good though and solar printing as well safer etching are possible. The cramped conditions are more than made up for by the people involved and the experimental and creative approach. We had mainly fine weather and it is lovely to be printmaking in the countryside in a barn as well as a temporary tented structure.

I do hope that more funding is made available though (a funding bid has been submitted) as it would make it much, much easier from a technical point of view if there were more space and it were easier for local users of the facility in winter too.

At The Rodd, Sydney Nolan Trust - 11,12 June

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Collagraph - first print

Not a bad first print from this plate - will see what it's like with colour as well when I re-print.

Saturday, 6 June 2009


I've now got my photos of gabbro that I took looking through a microscope in Dudley Museum at Easter. I love the textures of these readymade abstract images.

You can't trust Wikipedia for everything but this is probably correct:Gabbro (pronounced /ˈɡæbroʊ/) refers to a large group of dark, coarse-grained, intrusive mafic igneous rocks chemically equivalent to basalt. The rocks are plutonic, formed when molten magma is trapped beneath the Earth's surface and cools into a crystalline mass.The vast majority of the Earth's surface is underlain by gabbro within the oceanic crust, produced by basalt magmatism at mid-ocean ridges. Gabbro is dense, greenish or dark-colored and contains pyroxene, plagioclase, amphibole, and olivine (olivine gabbro when olivine is present in a large amount). Gabbro is an essential part of the oceanic crust... UsesGabbro often contains valuable amounts of chromium, nickel, cobalt, gold, silver, platinum, and copper sulfides.Ocellar varieties of gabbro can be used as ornamental facing stones, paving stones and it is also known by the trade name of 'black granite', which is a popular type of graveyard headstone used in funerary rites. It is also used in kitchens and their countertops, also under the misnomer of 'black granite' Gabbro was named by the German geologist Christian Leopold von Buch after a town in the Italian Tuscany region

Collagraph plate

Following our Imagetextimage on Monday I' ve been working further on the collagraph plate and it's ready now. I'll pull a trial proof tomorrow.