What an incredible experience to watch master print-maker Collin Cole at work during my recent Intaglio Printmaking Course at the Blue Door Print Studio. First of all, I have never seen a more beautiful studio in my life! I mean, how cool is it to have a 1904 pink church building with a blue door for a printing studio? It is also the cleanest printing shop I have ever experienced. Immaculate.

Etching is traditionally the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design into the metal. As a method of printmaking, it is along with engraving, the most important technique for old master prints, and remains in wide use today.

blue-door

The Blue Door

The acid bites into the metal where it is exposed, leaving behind lines sunk into the plate. The plate is inked all over, and then the ink wiped off the surface, leaving only the ink in the etched lines. The plate is then put through a high-pressure printing press together with a sheet of paper. The paper picks up the ink from the etched lines, making a print. A very technical process, laborious and very sensitive.

Not only did Colin teach me all the different techniques associated with etching, but he also pushed me to develop my themes further and dig deeper. The theme that happened on me (through a letter game) was “This is not the truth”, which was truly inspiring, and forced me to do some introspection. I am now going to further develop this concept into a full body of work in the new year.

I am very happy to have learnt these techniques before I go to Paris, as I am sure it will really benefit me there. As Collin put it so nicely: “You know how to speak, now it’s time to learn poetry”.

So off I went, through the Blue Door to great new adventures!

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