We’re lucky to have been joined by Jane Furst, a printmaker who specialises in intaglio techniques and creates beautiful prints that draw inspiration from deep sea creatures. Jane has been helping us during Wednesday Club, assisting users with drypoint work. She kindly took us through her techniques recently, showing plates, prints and her lovely notebooks, documenting the methods she uses and details of processes applied to specific plates.
Mezzotint plates take weeks to work, first roughening the copper plate with a rocker that makes tiny impressions to create the beautiful soft blacks and halftones. The rocker is moved over the plate in a precise pattern, and Jane documents where she has got to with the process in her notebooks. Once the plate has achieved a velvety black print, it can be burnished to bring it back to lighter tones and white.
Jane showed us examples of her photo etching plates. These come coated in a photo-sensitive resist. Once exposed to UV light, the resist hardens. A transparency with solid black and white artwork is placed on the plate before exposure to the UV light, so that areas of the resist remain soft and can be washed away with a special solution after exposure. Once prepared the plate is etched in acid, with the metal only affected in the areas where the resist was removed. Very detailed work can be created with this method.
Jane also works with aquatint and hard and soft ground etching methods. She has combined these to great effect with drypoint for her series of prints based on microscopic marine life forms ‘animal and plant’. Taking inspiration from nineteenth century biologist Ernst Haeckel, but also using metaphor. Jane places the thin aluminium drypoint plates on top of the etching plates and runs them through the etching press together, using a technique she has developed herself.