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Old 12-04-2009, 04:49 AM
adamk adamk is offline
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flat tone on plate

Hello to everyone as i am new in here (but i feel already at home!). I reside in Italy, i am a painter and lately i added printmaking to the rest of my adventures in this life. Now to my question: how do i get an even flat tone(not perfect) in the background of my print? I suppose that it has to do with the way that the plate gets wiped. I tried with either a dabber or a scrim but at the end the result seems like a guessing game to me as i cannot see on the plate if it will be even when it prints and therefore i get some stains here and there.Thanks to all in advance.
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Old 12-04-2009, 07:25 AM
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Diane Cutter Diane Cutter is offline
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Re: flat tone on plate

Hello and welcome to Wet Canvas, adamk...

It's been a long time since I've done an etched plate so I have a question... Is the background smooth (unetched) or does it have a slight etch? If the 'staining' is consistently in the same place, you might need to burnish the plate in those areas.

Hopefully some of our etchers will come along soon...

Diane
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Old 12-04-2009, 08:04 AM
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inugie inugie is offline
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Re: flat tone on plate

Hi, I'm by no means very experienced in etching, but from the little I've done I know that the type of plate has an influence on the plate tone. I've used aluminium which, even when wiped cleanly, still has a faint tone. Copper wipes much cleaner with no tone. I also found that wiping the last bit with the base of your hand gives more control over the tone left on the plate.

I'm sure the more experienced etchers will chip in too.
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Old 12-04-2009, 10:02 AM
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bridog bridog is offline
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Re: flat tone on plate

welcome to the printmaking forum
I too am not that experienced with traditional etching but have done a few drypoint studies on both zinc and aluminium plates.
Found that a more consistent flat plate tone can be achieved by using a paper base such as yellow pages, newsprint or tissue paper for wiping. I polish the plate surface by using the flat of my palm set over top of the paper. The primary stages of wiping with a tarlatan cloth seem to leave too many variations of tone but perhaps I wasn't changing to cleaner material often enough?
I am sure you might get some more advice from other members.
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Last edited by bridog : 12-04-2009 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 12-04-2009, 10:22 AM
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H2O_Baby H2O_Baby is offline
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Re: flat tone on plate

Welcome Adam.

What materials and techniques are you using?

The tone you get has a lot to do with the depth you use in your lines that are etched, the quality of your aquatint (if using aquatint) and the viscosity of the ink you use. Another but less important factor can be the press pressure and blankets you need to get the ink out of the lines & grooves.

To wipe more easily you can try the following:

1. Use different materials to wipe as Diane has stated, or use cleaner and cleaner tarletan as Brian said

2. Mix an additive like EXWipe to your ink. This however may help pull ink out of shallow lines as you wipe the plate, so depending upon how deep your lines are you have to play with the viscosity and the amount of wiping you do.

3. Try a different ink. I find that Daniel Smith water mixable inks are much easier to wipe than Graphic Chemical oil based inks, and different plates respond better or worse to one or the other depending upon the etch.

Mostly, you just have to play with your materials. good luck and please post your work so we can see it!

Last edited by H2O_Baby : 12-04-2009 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 12-04-2009, 11:11 AM
adamk adamk is offline
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Re: flat tone on plate

Thanks to all for your replies. The problem i am facing is regarding two different plates, one is a drypoint made in copper and the other one is a normal etching done in zink. I use Charbonnel ink(oil based). My lines are deeply etched in both cases and the result i get is either too clean( with no tone in the background) or with marks and stains. I suppose i just have to keep on trying!!
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Old 12-04-2009, 01:01 PM
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LynnM LynnM is offline
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Re: flat tone on plate

Hi Adam, welcome here! Can you connect the stains to any marks on the plate? As Diane says, you may need to burnish a bit. Otherwise, if you want some tone that you can control, you may need to do a light aquatint that you can then wipe differentially. These things are really part of the process, every set of conditions seems to present a trial and error process, to be learned by that particular etcher, the solutions becoming the unique style of that person.
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Last edited by LynnM : 12-04-2009 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 12-04-2009, 01:16 PM
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H2O_Baby H2O_Baby is offline
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Re: flat tone on plate

Adam, there is another thing you can do to get the background tone to be constant. Clean the plates really well, and use a piece of very light paper on the entire plate to give your background a constant tone. This is called chine colle'.

There are various archival glues that are used and they are put on the back of the chine colle' paper, I don't know where you would get them in Italy. I think that if you try, you can find some YouTube examples of how to do chine colle' if you can't find a workshop near where you live.
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Old 12-04-2009, 04:26 PM
Foxtrotter Foxtrotter is offline
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Re: flat tone on plate

Quote:
Originally Posted by adamk
Hello to everyone as i am new in here (but i feel already at home!). I reside in Italy, i am a painter and lately i added printmaking to the rest of my adventures in this life. Now to my question: how do i get an even flat tone(not perfect) in the background of my print? I suppose that it has to do with the way that the plate gets wiped. I tried with either a dabber or a scrim but at the end the result seems like a guessing game to me as i cannot see on the plate if it will be even when it prints and therefore i get some stains here and there.Thanks to all in advance.

Ah, I see. When I wipe a plate, I start with tarlatan (your dabber, I suppose) to get the bulk of it off. Then I go over it with thin paper (newsprint, paper from a telephone book, etc) to pull off the rest. It's pretty tedious, but practice makes perfect. If you're only using your dabber / scrim, that won't be enough. Just go over the plate lightly so you don't pull the ink out of the lines.
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Old 12-04-2009, 05:34 PM
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clayholio clayholio is offline
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Re: flat tone on plate

Quote:
Originally Posted by adamk
Thanks to all for your replies. The problem i am facing is regarding two different plates, one is a drypoint made in copper and the other one is a normal etching done in zink. I use Charbonnel ink(oil based). My lines are deeply etched in both cases and the result i get is either too clean( with no tone in the background) or with marks and stains. I suppose i just have to keep on trying!!

Getting consistent results with wiping plates is pretty much a matter of experience. It takes a while to develop the "touch" and to know what to look for to avoid overwiping or underwiping your plates. There's pretty much always going to be a faint plate tone, but you can minimize that a bit by printing on cream- or tan-colored paper (the tone will still be there, but the contrast of black ink on white paper will be minimized a bit).

If you have an area on your plate that hasn't been worked on at all (like with the drypoint), you might consider going over it as lightly as you can. With a light touch, you can get a very light grey that won't look drastically different than your plate tone would. That way, the ink is going into the linework rather than floating around on the unworked plate surface.

In any case, good luck, and keep at it!
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Old 12-05-2009, 04:26 AM
fifthhorsm fifthhorsm is offline
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Re: flat tone on plate

adamk,
you've hit on whats probably the most important aspect of print making. one that is all too often overlooked and is never stressed the way it should be..... plate tone will make or break a print for you. it can make a plate thats just so so and turn it into a real eyecatcher..... if you don't believe me then i suggest you look at the work of whistler, he really wasn't that good of an etcher but he was sure a master printer. his works are all about plate tone.... and thankfully why most fakes are so easy to catch.
this doesn't apply just to etching but to all intaglio work... in wiping a plate it's all too easy to wipe it too clean... been there done that.... by getting the plate too clean the result will most often be flat, lacking depth or richness.
as to your problem of staining blotchy uncontroled tone... i'd give you 10 to 1 odds that the problem is very simple... it's your own dirty grubby fingers. in wiping never touch the plate with a finger tip... it will leave a mark!!!!! instead use plate wipe or the heel of your hand.... sounds easy enough but it's not.... first your hands have all sorts of contaminates, ink, worst is skin oil and sweat... no i take that back the worst is lotions or barrier creams. never get them near a plate! if your going to use your hand to wipe a plate wash and dry them real good then wipe them off with mineral spirits, dry then apply a little ink to your palm from a dirty plate wipe, then wipe your palm dry this kinda conditions your hand... then in wiping you always use a constainly moving wiping motion.... to touch or lift your hand leaves a mark... by having your hand moving as you come in contact minimizes the marks... to control amount of ink tone left, apply ink from old wipe or wipe your hand dry with clean wipe... takes experience but is easy to learn. only use your hand after wiping plate clean with wipes. as to kind of wipe... it's up to you... there are lots of lint free plate wipes out there but rather costly... plain old cotten rags work fine so long as they have little lint. old well washed t-shirts i find best.... and cheap from thrift stores, as you can buy all the ugly ones really cheap.
once you start wiping a plate never apply any solvent, plate oil or anything else to it... this will cause you more problems than you can imagine... if the ink needs to be thinned do it before inking up the plate. your using the right ink in my way of thinking... none better... and all it ever needs is a drop or two of burnt plate oil, depending on the weather.
if your plate is too highly polished, i've found this to be a problem... my solution was to sand the entire plate surface before starting any work on the plate with 600 grit paper this will give the plate a bit of tooth to take and hold the tone..
yeah this all will leave your hands a big mess... don't wash them til completely finished printing just don't worry about them and place plenty of clean dry rags around the studio to use so you don't spread ink everywhere... esp at the press.... a secret of old printers was to use little folded slips of scrap paper to handle your good paper with... about 2"x4" scrap folded in half, that way you'll never get inky finger prints on the paper your printing.... and always use the slips once then throw away. in fact at all times paper should be handled this way... otherwise you'll get it contaminated with oils from your skin and it will haunt you later and not just when printing but also drawing or water colors.
omg so much to say and try to pass on regarding plate tone, hope i haven't bored you to death... just very glad you've recognized the importance of plate tone. and remember... it's all about experience.
damn i almost forgot a really big important thing.... lighting.... you'll never have much control with normal lighting... try using one of the small desk type lights ... those with a nice small cone type or rounded shade and flexable shaft or arm to direct the light.... place it on the table or bench top about a foot and a half from the plate and have the light between 6" and 12" inches from the bench top directed toward the plate... this low light angle will make the ink show up much better... don't use the halogen bulbs, they get too hot and will either burn your arm or set something on the bench afire... rather use a regular 100 watt bulb. no need for nor desire for the fancy low wattage or natural light temp bulbs. play with the angle and direction to suit your eyes.
mike
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Old 12-06-2009, 03:10 PM
adamk adamk is offline
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Re: flat tone on plate

Thanks to all for the advice given i will try and put it all to work.
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