Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cycle I

Title: Cycle I
Size: 10"x8"
Medium: Etching and drypoint in graphite ink on grey paper
Edition of 5

This was the first finished piece I created in Intaglio I last spring. We had to create three finished editions, and I ended up making a series of images about cycles. This image was derived from a display at the Harvard Natural History Museum that showed silk worms, cocoons, and the moth that eventually emerges. I was intrigued by the cyclic arrangement of the display's design and the beauty this imparted on creatures that normally are considered disgusting. The arrangement was austere and almost mystical, and I sought to capture that. Within the image, birth, the process of maturity, and death are all implied but also expand beyond the scope of the picture plane, reaching outward into the viewer's world.

Overall, I thought this print was quite successful--especially as a first attempt! However, I think its most apparent shortcoming is the textures on the cocoons, which could easily be mistaken for...er...something else. Especially since the colors don't help identify the object, the texture was a particularly significant aspect and I don't think I quite managed to capture the fine, soft texture of a silk cocoon.

In terms of process, this image was created on a copper plate with hard ground painted on the surface. After the ground dried, I used etching tools to "draw" the image on the plate's surface. The plate was then immersed in a chemical bath, which eats away at the copper that is exposed through the ground (that is, the parts that were etched away). After I finished etching the plate, I did some finer detail in drypoint (directly etching into the plate to create lines) and used sandpaper to create some texture around the edges.

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