Sunday, November 14, 2010


These recent pieces were made using a copper plate etched in a complex process called “sugar lift.” The leaves that make up the “forest” here are mostly dried ginkgo leaves.

In my work with using the press to make monotypes I’ve used dried plant material directly on the press. Here the process was somewhat more complicated. It involved getting a sticky sugar solution on the leaves and then impressing them on the plate. An acid resist ground was then applied to the entire plate. At that point, the plate was soaked in hot water and the image made with the sugar solution “lifts” from the plate exposing that area to the acid.

While this is a technique used by many printmakers, using dried plant material was, shall we say, quite challenging! I went through a bundle of plant material before I could find things that would hold up and not just disintegrate. Luckily for me I was helped all along the way by a wonderful printmaker and teacher at Manhattan Graphics Center where I worked this past spring and summer. Vijay Kumar was endlessly patient and encouraging in my darkest hours of frustration using my disintegrating leaves!

What you see here, in these two variations, is the finished etching printed in relief, with ink rolled on the surface of the plate rather than rubbed into the lines in the more usual way of printing etchings. I then worked with each image using many materials, including pastel and gouache. I became absorbed in painting the gouache in intricate patterns within the impression of the leaves. Here I was definitely seeing the “trees” rather than the “forest” as a whole!