Printing etchings on Claybord or Aquabord
Old Bones, etching printed on Ampersand Claybord
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 and Aquabord are archival surfaces
- 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 Archival varnishes, 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.
Step 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.
Step 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.
Step 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.
Step 4: Ink and wipe the plate as you would for a paper print.
Step 5: Thoroughly wet and sponge dry each piece of Claybord before printing, removing all excess water with the sponge.
Step 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.
Step 7: Print with moderately-heavy pressure to force the softened clay into the etched lines to pick up the ink. Allow to dry thoroughly.
Step 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.
Ste 9: Varnish with Krylon® UV Archival varnish and frame without glass and matting if desired.
Charles Ewing, 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. 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. Visit his website: http://www.charlesewing.com