Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Intaglio Flea Beetle


I am sure you are going to ask - what is it? It happens to be a dry point Intaglio print of a flea beetle

Our first assignment for my Intaglio class was to pick an insect and draw it.  I found a book with pictures of flying/hopping insects in the library and chose the flea beetle as being interesting without being too complex. If you didn't check out the link, Flea beetles are small winged insects that can hop or fly away from trouble. They eat holes in leaves and are somewhat of a garden and agricultural pest. Though the site I found that seems to best describe them says that they are only really harmful to small plants. 

Below is what my drawing looked like, I had to scan it and make it smaller so it would fit on my plate.

Our instructor provided small copper plates (approx 2.25 inches square) that we were then to incise our insect into after transferring it by using tracing paper. I had no luck when I just used pencil on the tracing paper so ended up using my transfer paper that I had created in Illustration class. Still it created only a faint image so scribing the outline with a sharp double pointed twisted needle wasn't easy. Not to mention that you need to use a fair amount of force, that caused my hand to cramp so I would have to shake and rest it every 10 to 15 minutes.  One student still hadn't finished his plate (he had a larger zinc plate) by the end of class. He chose to do a spider, and it should be really good, as he was taking his time and putting in a lot of detail. But I am just as happy that I decided to stay with the smaller plate for my piece. 

Dry point is a method of marking a plate using only a sharp tool. You cut a groove in the copper surface with the tool, but more importantly you create a ridge that holds ink. Once the image is cut you then ink the plate and print it. Well, there is a bit more then that to the process, but I won't bore you with the details, unless you have a large printing press handy this isn't something you can do at home. I will mention that the prints are done on damp linen paper. My first print/proof was very faint, partly because the plate needed to be seasoned, and partly because we didn't have the press pressure set correctly and partly that my paper was a bit too dry. Later prints came out better, and I would say that the above print is my best. I need to make 3 more just like it next week as we are supposed to have a series of 4 prints for each plate. But we are also going to start working on our 2nd plate next week. The next technique we will learn is etching using a hard ground and an acid bath. It is much easier to draw your design into a hard ground so the results should be more interesting. The image for our next assignment is supposed to be a winter landscape. I need to go and take some photographs, I have pictures for spring/summer and fall but very few winter photos. Guess I don't like going out in the cold to take pictures. 

One last item. I finished the small flower mandala, here is the final version: 


Let me know what you think of it. I haven't started anything new just yet because I am finding myself busy with the 3 classes, and I  have another project I am working on for someone else that I am trying to fit in. This coming weekend I need to spend more time on my Graphic Design project. So far I am not thrilled with how it is coming and really need to spend time thinking of various ways I can approach the brochure. I also want to get started on the computer version, even though we are supposed to still be working with just tracing paper. Oh well, I get to a point where I have to do it my way regardless of what my instructor recommends. That's it for this post. Do feel free to post comments, or questions if you have any.