Monday, 16 June 2014
For a little while now I have been meaning to post about the mezzotint you see pictured here. This past winter I spent my Tuesdays taking the train back and forth across Scotland so I could spend some time at Glasgow Print Studios learning about this lovely, tonal printmaking process. The print is quite small, only 10 x 14 cm, so many of these faces you see here are probably about the size of your littlest fingernail.
Mezzotint is a little less common than other printmaking techniques, but basically how it works is that the surface of a metal plate is roughened by passing over it many, many times with a tool called a 'rocker' which is covered with tiny, steel teeth. Rocking a plate is a very long process. For a small plate like this it will take hours and hours, and for a large plate it could even take months. Once the rocking is finished, the plate, if printed, would produce a rich, velvety black tone. Any lightening of this black tone is achieved by scraping away at the rough plate to make it smoother, so it holds less ink when it is printed. If you like you, can watch a video of this process here.
I really fell in love with this type of printing. Even as I was attracted by the rich tones of mezzotint, I worried that it would be almost impossible to make small, precise images. Happily this was not the case, and there seem to be endless possibilities with this medium. So, even if the plate preparation is rather long, I am really looking forward to making many more mezzotints in the future.