I mentioned in an earlier blog that some motifs inspire experimentation, and these images of S. Maria Assunta on the Venetian island of Torcello are examples of one group of techniques used to add colour to an image.
First, proofs are taken at each stage in black ink until the plate is considered to be completed. Then, by carefully inking-up à la poupée and selective wiping and/or rolling of the plate, a wide range of weather and lighting conditions, can be suggested with coloured inks. It is great fun to do, not least because the resulting prints can be unpredictable.
The plate may be inked in two or more colours. Sometimes it may be passed a second time through the press. If it does have a second pass, then the registration of the plate is crucial in achieving a crisp image.
Sometimes the plate is printed onto a new sheet of paper without re-inking. This is called amuculature, or ghost print and can produce a wonderful, soft, atmospheric image.
Using these techniques takes a lot more time and care than inking in black.
A unique inking of a plate is known as a varied edition, usually shown on the print as (VE) sometimes called a monoprint.
Here is a selection from 3 plates, showing how different the motif can look with this technique.
Here are two sides of Hastings: the fishing community at Rock-a-Nore and the trippers on the sands.
Dawn is printed from a steel plateand uses the techniques of soft ground, aquatint, spit-bite, scraping, burnishing and dry-point.
As you can see, it went through several transformations, most notably at State 5 when there were five separate stoppings-out. After each stopping-out, the plateis placed back in the acid for a predetermined time. The time for each biting is differentand the effect is cumulative. You can also see the effect of different wiping of the same state in images 3, 3a and 3b.
There is much scraping-out on this plate, which is a difficult job because steel is much harder than zinc. Steel, however, is better for colours, especially yellows, which, when wiped on zinc platesoften take on a greenish hue.
In State 7, I have experimented with colour. These prints are monoprints (sometimes referred to as V.E. or varied edition), that is, they are variations printed from the same matrix: each one is unique.
I used a different technique to the à la poupée that I showed you in Spanish Journey: Part IV: Ronda and Madrid. Here the dark ink is wiped into the intaglio and the lighter colour, which may be modified to alter its consistency or viscosity, is applied over the plate with a roller. Thus, when printed, the dark ink is the top layer.
I was particularly attracted by the foremost boat, RX55. Clinker-built boats have such graceful lines and, in the round, are beautifully crafted sculpture.
There is no harbour at Hastings and the fishing boats are pulled up onto the beach by a big tractor. Boats are registered at the nearby port of Rye, hence the RX numbers on their prow.
The Duskplate is intaglio gravurewiped in a blue/black blend to give an impression of the sea at dusk.
A father and his children sit on the shingle, with the Hastings Pier in the background. He appears to be telling a tale to his daughter, while his son, who has heard all the tales before, looks away and dreams of what he will do when he grows up. Old Tales, Young Dreams.
I was fascinated by the silhouette of the Pier seen against the sparkling light on the sea, and engaged by the domestic scene in the foreground.