“Old Bones”, etching printed on Claybord by Charles Ewing
Printing a zinc or copper plate etching (or drypoint) onto the clay surface of Claybord or Aquabord has three distinct advantages over printing on paper:
• The permanence of the print: Claybord is an archival surface<
• The ability to rework prints with mistakes or add finishing details and colors
• Glass free presentation
A matte acrylic varnish or spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss) sprayed on the Claybord works well and seems to bring out the relief caused by the clay pressing into the etched lines of the plate. The following exercise is a great place to start.
1. Etch a zinc or copper plate as you would for printing on paper except for: a. Avoid deep wide lines as the clay pressing into the line cannot “reach” the ink in the bottom of the etched lines. b. Use as thin a metal plate as will take your depth of etching and bevel the edges. The thicker plates seem to be pushed by the press, digging into the clay surface.
2. Choose an appropriate Claybord size and determine the placement of the image. Sand the edges to prevent damage to the press blankets. If Aquabord is used, the surface should be lightly sanded.
3. Using matboard or thick paper (should be same or slightly thinner than the metal plate), cut a template with outside dimensions the same as the Claybord, with an opening the size of the plate cut into it for consistent positioning of the image during the edition. This also keeps the plate from moving on the clay surface.
4. Ink and wipe the plate as you would for a paper print.
5. Thoroughly wet and sponge dry each piece of Claybord before printing, removing all excess water with the sponge.
6. Place the damp Claybord, clay side up, on the bed of the press. Position the template on top and carefully drop the metal plate into the opening image side down.
7. Print with moderately-heavy pressure to force the softened clay into the etched lines to pick up the ink. Allow to dry thoroughly.
8. Any ink smudges around the image can be cleaned off with fine oil-free steel wool (0000). The image itself can be redefined or manipulated with scratching tools.
9. Varnish with spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss) and frame without glass and matting if desired.
About Charles Ewing, inventor of Claybord
Charles, a versatile artist with diverse interests in media as well as subject matter, is known for his figurative paintings of people, wildlife and nature. Along with his extensive use of oils, he works in a unique medium of his invention known as Claybord. He has also been instrumental in developing new printmaking techniques and enjoys the third dimension of bronze sculpture.
Charles was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and now resides near the south San Juan mountains of Southern Colorado. An avid outdoorsman, Charles’ paintings of nature and wildlife come largely from personal observation, each year spending many weeks on horseback in the nearby wilderness areas. Travels in Latin America and Europe have also offered much inspiration for his work. He is collected widely and shows in several Southwest galleries. http://www.charlesewing.com
This etching process is fully illustrated along with a number of other printing and painting techniques on Claybord in Charles Ewing’s book, The New Scratchboard available at Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/New-Scratchboard-Charles-Ewing/dp/08230465833
Charles Ewing discusses the invention of Claybord“The invention of Claybord, as with most new products, was developed out of necessity. I loved the scratchboard drawing technique, being able to create highlights by scratching off the black ink to expose the white clay underneath, however the traditional scratchboard left much to be desired as a fine art surface. It was much too fragile both in the versatility of technique as well as in framed presentation requiring one to glue the thin cardboard to a flat stiff hardboard to keep it flat and to protect the soft surface with glass.
I was able to eliminate these problems by developing a clay coated panel which, unlike scratchboard, would readily accept very wet applications of water media, such as India ink washes, without hurting the clay layer and which could simply be varnished and framed without glass like an oil painting. I made these panels for my own use one or two at a time for ten years before my wife and I decided to bring them to market, first making them on a very limited scale in an old adobe shed behind the house. Later, we helped Ampersand Art Supply in Austin, Texas create and manufacture Claybord for the national and international art materials market.”