A heuristic method of etching derived from Stanley William Hayter

305 49 3MB

English Pages 64

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

A heuristic method of etching derived from Stanley William Hayter

Citation preview


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Department of Fine Arts The University of Southern California

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Fine Arts

by Catherine Phillips Fels August 1950

UMI Number: EP57887

All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion.

UMI Dissertation PublisNng

UMI EP57887 Published by ProQuest LLC (2014). Copyright in the Dissertation held by the Author. Microform Edition © ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. This work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code

ProQuest ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, Ml 4 81 0 6- 1346

This thesis, w ritten by

Catherine Phillips Fpls under the guidance of h§X.... F a c u lty Com mittee, and approved by a l l its members, has been presented to and accepted by the C ouncil on G radu ate Study and Research in p a r tia l f u l f i l l ­ ment of the requirements f o r the degree of


D a te


F acu lty C om m ittee

C hairm an



PAGE THE PROBLEM AND THE E X P E R I M E N T S ..... Historical Background


. . . . . . . . .





. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . .


. c < < . •



. .


Method of Scoring the P l a t e ........ ..


Printing Technique .



Color Printing • • • • • • • • • . . « • IV.


DESCRIPTION OF PLATE I ................


First E t c h ..............


Second Etch



Third Etch • • • • • • • • .........


Fourth Etch




Description of Plate I I .......... .



First E t c h .......... . . . . . . . . . .


Second Etch

. . . . . . ' . . . . e e .


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




PAGE Description of

Plate III . . . . . .

First Etch Description of First Etch





. . . . .




Second Etch Notes


. . . . . . . . . .

Description of


Plate IV


Plate V . . . . . .

35 .




Linoleum Color Block. . . . . . . .


Description of Plate V I ............


First - Second




of Plate VII . . . . . .



of Plate VIII



of Plate IX

- Third Etch

. . . . . . . . . .



Description of Plate X ............




• • •

« • • • • •

DESCRIPTION of Plate X I ............


S U M M A R Y ..............................






Zinc . . . . . . . .


. . . .



"Bird in Northwest Coast Idiom"

"Children in the R a i n ........ ..

. . •


. . . . . .


"Two Pelicans and a Crane" • • • • • • •


"Three Emus" ...............


"Christmas Card" ..........

. . . . . .

" Z o o " .............................

. .


" B o o k p l a t e " ........ ..................


"Eskimo Design"


; ............

• • • .

"Yaks" .................................


"Rope and Rocks"


CHAPTER I THE PROBLEM AND THE EXPERIMENTS During the last two centuries it had become cus­ tomary to use the metal plate as a means of reproducing a drawing or painting rather than to treat it as an independent art form.

The overwhelming mass of graphic

work since 1750 may be described with fair accuracy as reproductive or imitative.

Stanley William Hayter is the

leading, contemporary exponent of two departures from the traditions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These departures are; first, the use of all known means on one plate and invention of new means for producing a de­ sign on a plate; and second, the exploitation of the metal plate itself and the prints made therefrom as an indepen­ dent art.

Hayter and his fellow artists in Atelier 17 ^

have exercised, and still exercise a profound influence on contemporary printmaking. This influence is not merely technical, though the technical developments are striking enough in themselves. Hayter is also the spokesman for, the practitioner of, and teacher of a work method which is an active and prac­ tical expression of that quality in twentieth century art ^In France Hayters workshop was called "Atelier 17; in New York after 1940, "Studio 17” .

2 which most sharply differentiates it from the work of the nineteenth century.

Of it, Mr. Kayter says:

The development of new techniques of engraving and etching in the last twenty years bears no witness to the real capacities of those concerned with it; the demand was lacking. Compared with the fantastic growth of techniques in the natural sciences in the last century, their achievement is indeed quite modest. It has been the fashion to divorce the arts from scientific development, but I feel that this is an error. .....The unconscious activity of research depends on the recognition of a pattern previously established in the mind of the researcher.2 Thus, Hayter seeks what can be called a heuristic method of work.

That this method involved the assumption of an

aesthetic quite different from that of nineteenth century romantic idealism is quite obvious, though not of direct concern here. The project which was undertaken for this thesis was (1) an historical survey of the field, followed by (2) experiments in studio procedure, the results of which are presented. I.


During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when imitative, commercial printmaking occupied the majority - ----------------------

Stanley William Hayter, New Ways of Gravure. Pantheon Press, New York, 1949, P 25& .


of craftsmen in the field, there were many outstanding printmakers of original prints.

In both England and

France, painter-gravers produced original works.


men always worked against financial odds, however, and as much for love of the art as for profit.

Public acceptance

was so limited that there was little stimulation for tech­ nical invention.

Frintmaking was apparently on its death­

bed often, as every new group of printmakers in the nine­ teenth century referred to itself as "reviving" the art of the print.

This was also true in the early twentieth

century, as the Society of Young Contemporary Engravers founded in Paris in 1929 also announced itself as reviving the art of the original print.

Hayter exhibited with this

group, as did Joseph Hecht, the Polish engraver, by whom he was greatly influenced. Hayter was born in England, and as a young painter participated in the Surrealist group activities in Paris from about 1922.

In 1927 Hayter opened a graphic studio

at 17 Hue Campagne Premier.

Here, Picasso, Miro,

Kandinsky, Masson, Ernst, Calder, Tanguy and many others came to get technical advice and tools and to work on 3 plates. 3 Carl Zigrosser, Atelier 17, Wittenborn, Schultz, Inc., New York, 1949.

4 Hayter made Studio 17 the center of graphic art activity until 1940, when he came to New York.

He made no attempt

to impose a philosophy of art on these men, but a great enthusiasm for printmaking, and for technical invention to broaden the a r t i s t s scope in the craft, emanates from Studio 17 in New York and from Hayter himself. Hayter acknowledges a debt to Joseph Hecht, and no doubt Hayter1s formidable technique was based on Hechtfs more or less artisan style.

It is Hayter1s own contri­

bution to have insisted that the medium is to serve the artist, not dictate to him.

He developed a method of

w>rk which led to the discovery of means to create the effect desired, whether that effect was traditionally ac­ ceptable or not.

It is HayterTs great virtue, however,

that with all the healthy rejection of traditional trammels, there exists in him an equally healthy respect for the history of the craft.

All that may be sought out

from the past to be used today, Hayter seeks out.

He has

thus become an outstanding authority on the history of printmaking, and has re-discovered techniques which had been unused for many decades. It would be hard to imagine a greater contrast than that between the work of Atelier 17 and the nineteenth century English and American printmakers.

But the aims,

5 stated

in writing by the two groups ofartists have a sur­

prising consistency. in the

The explanation of this may well lie

fact that the aesthetic battles of the late nine­

teenthand early twentieth centuries were field of painting.

fought out in the

In particular the writing of Seymour

Hayden and P. G. Hammerton rings a familiar note when read in the twentieth century.

Hayden was the founder of the

Royal Society of Painter-Gravers, and a vigorous campaigner for original printmaking.

Interested in techniques, he

invented an acid bath which permitted great subtlety of control, and in a day when many gentlemen artists did not want to dirty their hands, advocated the artists1 doing their own printing.

Hayden*s wife was James McNeil

Whistlers step-sister, and Hayden managed to maintain a remarkably harmonious relationship with his brother-in-law, who also insisted on doing his own printing.

This, in

spite of the fact that Whistler was as famous for his ex­ quisite person as for exquisite prints. Hayden*s doctrine about the etched line, elaborated by Hammerton in his Etchers* Handbook, published in London in 1&&1, is not so great a departure from Hayter*s, pub­ lished in 1949. far. deed.

But one must not push the comparison too

The prints of 1BB1 and 1949 are very different in­ As different as the prints may be, public response


had certain similarities*

Hayden and Hammerton, whose

works appear today to be most conventional, found them­ selves involved in the battle which defended the artistsT right and obligation to personal expression.

They wrote

voluminously against an imitative standard of judgment of art, and carried on a public attack on critics who exalted technical virtuosity.

Their colleague Whistler, who was

always sensational, was the victim of attacks which have a familiar ring today.

Whistler’s prints were called tTmere

scrawls” x>rhich "could have been made by a c h i l d . M a n y of the insults levelled today at Picasso, Braque, Henry Moore and Max Weber are almost identical to those thrown at Whistler.

We find this not a little surprising, as

Whistler’s prints have, with long familarity, become quite acceptable, even commplace. The traditions of an imitative style of copywork had become so dominant that Hayden, in enunciating his "doctrine of the use of line" claimed for the etched line that quality with which an artist can express his emotion, to the exclusion, it would seem, of the graved line. Frederick Keppel is correct, then, in saying that the art

If P. G. Hammerton, Etchers’ Handbook, Roberson Co., London, 16>$1, p. 43.

7 5 of engraving died early in the nineteenth century, and gave way to etching.

Aquatint fell out of use as

photography and photogravure developed towards the end of that century.

Both fell out of use for the same reason.

They had come to be used as methods of more or less mechanical reproduction, and were not being used by artists as direct creative mediums. The great graphic artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were, of course exceptions to the above statement.

Among the exceptions were the two

Americans residing in London, Pennell and Whistler, the Englishmen, Hayden and Hammerton; in France, Millet, Jaque, Meryon, Lelanne, Legros, and many others. It is among this group of French and English graphic artists that we find Hayter’s artistic parents.


theories of Hayden and Hayter show a certain similarity, as long ago as 1$71 Hammerton wrote an article correcting: ’’Vulgar Errors about Etching” which were expressed in the London Morning Post. ” .... the writer ..... sees nothing but imitation in the arts of design, and fancies that by artistic though we mean nothing but the exercise of the imitative faculty. This is pre­ cisely what we NOT mean if there were nothing beyond the mere selection of materials this would be much already, for the exercise of artistic choice, the mere labor of omission, is a great and high exercise of the human mind.... there is the art of presenting things and arranging things so as to produce a certain ^F. Keppel, The Golden Age of Engraving. Baker, New York, 1910, p. 150.


pre-calculated, pre-determined effect upon the mind of the reader .... in the arts of design you have paintings, drawings, etchings, which the ignorant believe to be simply imitative, but which invariably, if they are of any value, have cost much exercise of artistic thought, in choice, imission, arrangement, subtle calculation for result ........ all this is quite outside of imitation and really incompatible with quite strict imitation, yet this is what is meant by fine art, and imitation is not fine art.u6 Hayden, Hayter, Whistler and Pennell all held to three principles for graphic artists, first; the artist graves or etches his own plates, second; the artist does his own printing, and third; the plate and print are objects of art in themselves and not reproductions or imitations of other works of art. From the statement of Hammerton1s —

which says no

more than any practicing artist would say -- there is not so great a step to Hayters remark that: w ... even those artists who imagine themselves to be transferring the retinal image of the edge of a volume to paper, even if such a deliberate steriliza­ tion of the function of line were desirable -- do not in fact do this. I suspect that, even in such obstinate devotees of the immediate visual image, during the few seconds that elapse while the focus of the eye shifts from the remote object to the surface of the paper, a concept has been formed in the mind. Perhaps this is modified by a conscious or unconscious remembrance of similar objects — and that which is described on the paper is the concept and not the P. G. Hammerton, Etcher*s Handbook, London, 1&&1, p. 62.

7 literal image before the artist.” Examples of similar thought, modified by the century of origin might be multiplied.

These ideas

might be summarized into what might be called "tradition” and "counter-tradition.”

It would be preferable to refer

to tradition as that built by the great works of graphic art, by the works of Durer, Mantegna, Rembrandt, Hayden, Whistler, Meyron and the contemporary group.

The counter­

tradition, then, would refer to the copyists, many of them engravers of consummate technical achievement.

By copy­

ists, we mean here, both those who attempt to copy nature, and those who copy art.

In discussing "tradition”, how­

ever, it has been the habit of each group who sought to "revive” the arts of gravure, to refer to those ideas held by engravers which almost undoubtedly led to the abandon­ ment of engraving as an art. Keppel attributes the aseendency of etching over engraving in the eighteenth century to the faster pace of life, the "time is money” psychology.


One might reason­

ably attribute the change to changes in taste.

The burin

is a better tool for calculated, objective, scientific art, while the more personal psychological and emotional art of the last two centuries found etching more congenial.


?S. W. Hayter, New Ways of Gravure.Pantheon. New York 1949, p. 259. % . Keppel, The Golden Age of Engraving.New York, 1910 p. 31.


was not because the artist was in a hurry, but because this age regarded the art style of the preceding century as unemotional.

Indeed, burin engraving, if one followed

all the rules which had been codified by the end of the seventeenth century, tended to be dry and inflexible. This codification to which we refer, must be ad­ mitted as the major factor contributing to the abandonment of engraving.

Engravers of the seventeenth and eighteenth

centuries (the "Golden Age of Engraving") became absorbed in copying paintings.

A fine collection of these tours

de force may be seen in the Huntington Library Collection in San Marino, California. selves technically.

The engravers outdid them­

They not only imitate the effects of

velvet and satin, they imitate the effects of oil paintings which imitate silken textures.

These engravers denied

themselves any personal expression with the burin.


finest examples of their works are copies of paintings by some other artist.

Many, who were artist-gravers, painted

their pictures, then copied them with the burin.


men worked out complete sets of directions, and apprentices learned these receipts.

Prescriptions existed for every

imaginable effect, so many strokes per square inch with such a tool in such a manner produces the effect of light on satin, so many dots here make a shadow on a nose.

Burin engraving

11 as a consequence became very boring to the artists, Hayterfs friend, Joseph Hecht, had received a complete training in the craft of engraving as practiced by those engravers who brought the art to such a height of technical virtuosity and of atrophy.

Despite this,

Kecht developed a personal style of great clarity.


thus became the link between the old craftsman and the con­ temporary engraver and etcher,

Hayter is himself master

of the old, and inventor of the new.

In Studio 17, he not

only developed for himself techniques adequate for his own use, but aided his fellow artists in finding the means of gravure necessary for twentieth century art.

CHAPTER II THE VARIOUS TECHNIQUES OF GRAVURE: THEIR DEVELOPMENT AND USE Some writers start their inquiry into engraving techniques with a study of petrographs and graved bone and ivory.

Here we are concerned only with graving which has

as its object the printing of an image on paper from the engraving.

According to Vasari,


Masseo Finiguerra in­

intaglio engraving in Florence in 1460.

Both Andre B l u m ^

and Hayter agree that single proofs on paper made by an engraver of metal to check the progress of his work do not fall into our field of interest. The simple distinctions between relief and intaglio printing are as follows:

In INTAGLIO processes the metal

is grooved to form the design.

Ink is then deposited in

the grooves and the surface is wiped clean.


paper is pressed upon the metal plate with pressure suffi­ cient to force the paper into the grooves to pick up the ink.

In RELIEF processes the parts which do not receive

^Gi orgio Vasari, Lives of the Most Eminent Archi­ tects. Painters, and Sculptors of Italy. Andre Blum, Origins of Printing and Engraving, translated by H. M. Lydenberg, New York, Scribners, 1940, p*


ink are the ones which are cut away.

The remaining raised

parts are inked and the paper pressed upon these areas picks up the ink. These two techniques were used from earliest times in the following ways; 1. Engraving with simple grooving, using the burin and cutting away the parts not to print. 2. Engraving by round points made with a punch, (called crible) 3. Punch engraving with burin retouching. 4. Burin engraving. Printing from carved blocks of wood, a relief process, became popular at about the same period as engraving, and for the same reason: the greater availability of paper. Woodcarving techniques, were, of course, as well known in the middle ages as metal engraving.

The printing of

designs on testiles from wood blocks was practiced in Byzantium and in western European monastic centers. ETCHING likewise seems to have been well-known long before it was practiced as a printing art.


covered metal with wax, drew designs through it and etched or corroded the lines with salt and vinegar. number of etched plates.

Lfurer made a

The process was probably known

as early as the thirteenth century.

Lucas van Leyden

(1494-1533) printed etchings on copper in the Netherlands and Urs Graf (d. 1527) etched plates of iron.



Hopfer (fl. 1493-1536) made some of the earliest etched portraits.

Hayter thinks printing of etched plates was

not practiced until after printing from engraved plates was well known, and that it was regarded as a ,!quicker but less effective” way of achieving the results of engraving.


A comparative glance at a Ddrer etched print and an engraving by the same artist shows the falsity of this. Regarded as an imitation engraving, the etching is a poor substitute; but used as an art medium in itself, it has interest and beauty. Beginning in the early 16th century with Raimondi, the tendency to use engraving as a means of reproducing the work of well-known artists came to dominate the field. t?Original engraving had less than a century of life”, says Hayter, ”and though it does not disappear completely, practitioners of original printmaking in engraving are freaks”


Frederick Keppel agrees with the fact, without

the tone of castigation. most famous engravers

He says that ”we may divide the into two general classes.


who flourished before the middle of the seventeenth cen­ tury; and those who appeared in succeeding centuries. •^Hayter, New Ways of Gravuret p. 173. ■^Hayter, New Ways of Gravure, p. 136.


15 works of the former ... included nearly all the famous »painter-engraversT —

those who engraved from their own



Several new techniques were invented in the seven­ teenth and eighteenth centuries to serve the copyists in perfecting their reproductions of paintings. were mezzotint, aquatint and stipple.

Among these

These techniques

produce a tonal effect, as contrasted with linear effects. Though superficially related to crible dotted or punched, prints, the result is quite different.

The ancient dot­

ting technique created a textured effect primarily.


achievement of tone was subsidiary, though it was sometimes effected.

When the aim was the reproduction of paintings,

tonal effects were considered more desirable. MEZZOTINT was developed early in the seventeenth century.

The method consists of roughening the surface of

the plate so that enough ink is retained to print a uniform black.

A grooved tool called a "rocker" is used.


siderable skill is required to ground a mezzotint plate evenly.

The process is the reverse of etching, engraving

or aquatint, as the artist works from black to white.


Frederick Keppel, Golden Age of Engraving. Baker, Taylor Co., New York, 1910, p. 31.


lights are polished out with a burnisher. mezzotint comes from its burr. drypoint.

The quality of

In this, it is similar to

It also resembles drypoint in that the plates

wear rather rapidly.

Due to this rapid wear, as well as

to changes in taste, mezzotint has been little used in recent times.

Mezzotint makes possible the most subtle

gradations from white to black, and the most velvety blacks also, of any graphic medium. The devotion of engraving to the work of copying and reproducing a painting very nearly lead to the extinc­ tion of engraving.

"When a painting can be photographed

in chromo-lithography or machine-work at a very small ex­ pense, no engraver could afford to spend years of study and preparation, and then years working upon a single plate.”^ It often required three to six years of work to complete some of the plates reproducing paintings. At approximately the same period several other methods of working on metal plates to produce the effects of painting were developed.

Stipple was used by Francesco

Bartolozzi (1725-1&15), w ^° used a special dotting tool to reproduce drawings.

Jean Francois used small rollers with

a Ibid., p. 32.


roughened surfaces to open lines in a ground, the plate was then etched.

This process, known as the lfcrayon”

method, reproduced drawings with great fidelity.


of these were printed in two or three colors. The color reproduction of paintings began in the early eighteenth century.

All the methods mentioned

above were utilized.

The simplest color printing was done

from a single plate.

Different colors of ink were applied

in different areas of the plate by hand with rags, called by the French poupees. and from this comes the name of the process, Poupee Inking.

This method of color printing is

not only slow, but places the major burden of the effect on the printer.

It is difficult to produce uniform

prints, a serious consideration for all craftsmen in the print field.

Some even insist that poupee. inking is not

color printing at all because the color is hand applied. Many different men claim the invention of color printing.

Hayter credits Jaques Christopher le Blonde

(1670-1741) with its invention.

Le Blonde reproduced

paintings in full color with considerable success.


used successive plates, one for each color, using the stipple and crayon methods.

Later on, aquatint was used

with even more faithful results.

Keppel, writing before


the invention of off-set lithography and screen-printing, remarks that some of these aquatint reproductions were 15 Tr.... perhaps even superior to later photographic methods.” There are some very fine examples of English aquatint en­ gravings in the Huntington Library Collection which show a full range of color and tone, and are most impressive as a technical achievement. Few graphic artists have recorded or disclosed the exact detail of the treatment of their engraved or etched plates.

The art is one that has been, generally speaking,

handed down from master to apprentice and from teacher to pupil.

Critics and historians debate upon the processes

involved in producing certain effects.

The artists them­

selves, analyse the plates and prints of preceding artists, speculating and experimenting in an attempt to recreate certain effects.

The processes and materials are common

knowledge in the field but, exact order of procedure and specific detail are often lacking.

This was even more

true of color printing processes, as at the time of their invention they were expected to become very profitable. For this reason details were kept secret, though print­ makers by studying the prints, can make some very good guesses at what the processes were. 15 Ibid.. p. 43.

CHAPTER III THE TECHNIQUES USED IN THE EXPERIMENTS It has, no doubt become clear from the preceding discussion that out of the multitude of old and new techniques it is theoretically possible to use, only a few may be the object of any one experiment.

It must be

understood that the very concept of a heuristic method rules out completely that method of work which conceives of the finished product in a certain definite form before work is begun.

It should be obvious, that if the artist

hopes to discover some new effect even if new only to him, that he cannot picture his finished work in his mind’s eye, then try to imitate that imaginary picture in graphic media.

Nevertheless, the artist must have some kind of

idea in order to start work.

In these experiments the

initiating idea was largely a technical one.

In some

instances a drawing provided a starting point; in others a texture. The heuristic method, then, is more than a method of studio experiment with the discovery of new techniques as a goal, but also a method of learning, that is, learn­ ing may be said to be the goal of the experiment if the

20 artist discovers techniques which have perhaps already been used by some other graphic artists, but which are new to him.

It has already been pointed out that there is no

encyclopedia of graphic techniques, but that many methods of graphic work have been lost or have not been adequately described.

Since there is no clearing house for dis­

coveries in graphic technique, nor any patent-office pro­ cedure for knowledge of this kind, the artist must expect to come across the work of another artist who has used similar techniques.

The variety of possibilities remains

so great, however, and the personal element so large, that similarity is the most that can be seen, and a duplication of effort is almost impossible.

Indeed, it is probably

safe to say that a heuristic method of work guarantees, if nothing else, that no great resemblance to any other work will result. In following a heuristic method a proof is pulled from the plate as soon as feasible.

The next step is de­

termined by a study of the plate and proof, the decision resting upon the suggestions presented by the plate and proof themselves. Other suggestions which may enter into the further developments are presented by the tools and materials available, and the criticism and comments of others in the

21 studio.

The most fertile situation in which to conduct

a heuristic experiment is with a group of people working in the same medium.

As was pointed out previously,

Hayter maintained a group studio, and this aspect of his method of work cannot be underestimated.

Although the

artist’s work always remains his own (though in some cases two or more artists in graphic groups have combined efforts on a plate) the comments, criticism and exchange of ideas that come about in a group work situation is a considerable factor in the success of the practice of a heuristic method. Methods of scoring the plate.

Both etching and

engraving were employed in the experiments for this thesis. The first experiments with burin engraving were done with no particular idea in mind, but to discover the manner of handling the tools, and to discover what effects could be obtained.

This experience might well be considered as a

method of learning rather than a method of discovery. However, it is perfectly possible for the student to use the burin for certain effects, as needed.

Many of the

potentialities of burin engraving are known to him by experimenting with burin and plate, the different strokes possible will be discovered by the student and eventual mastery of the tool will follow, to the degree the burin


engraving suits his particular artistic needs. Hard-ground and soft-ground etchings were employed to produce the various textures used in the experiments. Various materials were pressed into soft-ground or into a heated hard-ground plate, which was then put through the press with the textured material on it. Since free brushwork is appealing to this experimentor, a free brush technique was used on several of the plates.

In some cases an aquatint ground was applied

first, in some afterwards.

As Hayter points out, this

technique is rather rarely used as it requires considerable daring, but is exceptionally well suited to exploit aqua­ tint.

Transparent ground, stop out varnishes, and thinned

asphaltum were all used for free brushwork. The scraper and burnisher were used often in the experiments.

In one case a texture similar to maniere

noire was applied and the lights were scraped and burnished out.

On another plate, much scraping and burnishing was

necessary because an old plate back with many scratches had been used.

The old plate back was used because when the

experiment was started, no particular picture was planned but merely a test of a ground.

As work on the plate ad­

vanced, it appeared to be interesting and this lack of faith in the method resulted in hours of labor burnishing

23 out the scratches.

(Plate X)

The cutting out of holes in the plates is by no means a new discovery but is something that must be practiced before holes through any plates can be used as part of the graphic vocabulary.

It results, as Hayter points out, in

a destruction of the picture plane.

Although this destruc­

tion of the picture plane is one of the current problems of painters, it is one approached by the graphic artist with caution for one must remember that many generations of artists accumulated the necessary techniques for maintaining the picture plane. Printing techniques.

In every case experiments

were conducted in the printing of each plate as well as in the graving.

Single color plates were printed in different

colors, to discover which color best brought out the quali­ ties of the plate.

The same experiments were carried out

with different papers in a more limited way. Color printing.

The simplest method of color

printing is the poupee method.

This was utilized primarily

to discover what color divisions might be effective with a certain plate.

Poupee inking was not felt by this experi­

menter to be serviceable for large editions, but was found to be extremely useful in deciding whether to develop a plate farther in terms of color, and what divisions of color


areas to make in case this was done. Combined relief and intaglio printing were used on several plates.

The graved or etched lines are filled

with one color of ink, the plate is wiped clean, then other colors are rolled onto the surface of the plate with a roller.

The effect is then obtained in one printing. Two or more printings of the same plate were printed

with inks of different colors in different areas, or in the same areas with different colors.

Interesting overlays of

color may be obtained by this method.

By printing a

second color somewhat off-register or by printing a second color upside down, suggestions for further work as well as new textures and color vibrations may be obtained.


last possibilities are of course, quite limited in their application, and the results in the case of most of these plates were negative, more confusion than interest being the result.

However, the method was tried with all of the non­

representative plates, and in one case (Plate III) produced a rather interesting print. Printing color from separate relief blocks was also tried in these experiments.

Of the various methods of

printing color separately the linoleum block was the only one used in this series of plates.

In each case the metal

plate engraving was made first; the color block designed

25 later.

The color is printed first on the paper, then the

engraving printed over that.

As the linoleum block print­

ing puts considerably less pressure on the paper, it is easier to handle the paper for the intaglio printing last than first.

The intaglio printing is done on wet paper,

the paper was soaked before the linoleum printing was done so that maximum expansion could take place.

It was found

necessary to let the paper and linoleum ink dry, before the intaglio printing since, if the linoleum ink remained wet it came off on the intaglio plate, which then required constant cleaning. When rice papers were used the paper was not soaked, as the paper is too delicate to handle when wet, and it was found to be sufficiently absorbent for lino printing when dry.

For the intaglio printing the lightest possible

dampening between damp blotters was necessary, but this was so slight as to cause negligible expansion.

CHAPTER IV DESCRIPTION OF PLATE I First etch. with powdered rosin. a nylon bag. adhered.

The plate was first covered (dusted) This was shaken over the plate from

The plate was then heated until the rosin

On this aquatint ground the design, substantially

in its final form, was painted freehand with asphaltum thinned with carbon tetrachloride.

The plate was then im­

mersed in acid (nitric one part, water four parts). acid was too strong.


Within three minutes the heat gener­

ated by the zinc and acid melted the asphaltum.

The plate

was removed immediately from the bath and cleaned with turps.

Proofs No. 1 and No. 2 were pulled immediately. Proof No. 1; intaglio proof. Ink was applied with dauber and wiped with tartan. The raised surfaces which had been pro­ tected from the acid by the asphaltum wiped clean. The granular aquatinted surfaces held ink. Proof No. 2; relief proof. Ink was applied with a brayer to the raised surfaces which had been protected by asphaltum. The first attempt was made using etching ink. This was unsuccessful. The proof submitted as No. 2 was inked with linoleum block printing ink. The etching ink was not tackey enough to adhere to the smooth surfaces. El Greco paper was used.


Second etch. the entire plate. an etching needle.

Transparent ground was poured over The fine lines were scratched out with Two minutes in the nitric bath.

Proof No. 3; (green) relief proof, shows the fine lines added. Proof No. 4; Intaglio, a failure (missing). Third Etch.

A second, finer grained, aquatint

ground was applied, all over.

Step out varnish was used

to paint out all the raised parts. added with etching needle.

A few more lines were

Acid bath for three minutes

with the object of increasing the depth of the bitten back areas. Proof No. 5; relief proof. It will be observed that the greater depth of the bitten areas has increased the clarity of the print. Lino ink applied with brayer. Black ink. Proof No. 6; relief proof. Fourth etch.

Brown ink on newsprint.

Another heavy aquatint applied.

Stopout applied to unbitten areas.

Acid applied with

brush to the areas requiring further biting.

A consider­

able cleaning up of smudged areas was achieved. Proof No. 7; relief proof. Blue and yellow oil paints were rubbed into some of the depressed areas, brown lino ink applied with brayer to raised areas. (no intaglio proof pulled at this state.) Two linoleum pieces were cut, one for a blue sky area and one for a yellow foreground areas

These were printed on

2$ dry paper first, then the plate inked with lino and printed over the blue and yellow. Proof No.

No.9, No.10 and No.11; relief prints with lino color, white Fiesta paper.

Proof No.12;black intaglio, dampened Fiesta paper with litho ink. OBSERVATIONS: 1.

The acid used for the first two etches was too strong. This resulted in a buckling of the plate which has caused trouble in printing. One part of nitric to nine parts of water is sufficient strength.


Stop out varnish was the most satisfactory re­ sistant on this plate. Asphaltum, thinned most especially, is not recommended.


Linoleum and lithograph inks are more satis­ factory than etching or other inks for relief printing with zinc.


When relief printing is to be done it is wise to use a strong first bite which decisively lowers the cut away parts of the plate at the first bite. Repeated aquatinting of these areas causes confusion in the textures.


ZINC (15-3/4" X 10")



Fine aquatint was applied.


painted on plate by free brushwork with stop-out varnish. Weak etch, twenty minutes in one part nitric, nine parts water. Proof No.l, No.2, No.3, No.4, No.5; black etching ink on Sevir paper. Proof No.6, No.7, No.3, No.9, No.10, No.11; two color prints on Sevir paper. Black line etching ink, wiped as usual with tartan. Green etching ink applied TTa la poupeeTt to bird figure. The above (simultaneously inked and printed) printed for First Printing. Whole plate was cleaned, heated to disperse any remaining turps, then inked with redbrown etching ink. Only the figure was wiped completely clean, a brown tone was allowed to remain on the background areas. Second etch.

After eleven printings the light etch

had worn down noticeably.

(It should be noted that for

the last six printings there were two impressions for each proof so that the wear is not so rapid as might appear.) A very coarse aquatint ground was applied.

Unetched areas

were painted out with stop-out, and the motif above the birdis head was altered.

Approximately an hour and a half

in weak etch produced strong textures. Proof No. 12; study of this proof indicated that strong line would improve the design.


As this was a first attempt at en­

graving a number of slips of the burin had to be burnished out.

Others were allowed to remain as contributing to a

rough-textured, weather-worn appearance. Proofs No. 13 to No. 30; these proofs were pulled with a single printing in three colors. Black line was inked in first, then the plate wiped clean. Then sienna ink daubed on the bird and wiped lightly, leaving a tone. The back-ground green was rolled on with a small brayer, thus printing in relief simultaneously with intaglio print of the remainder. These proofs were pulled on the orange Chinese rice paper, on Sevir paper and on cream Chinese rice paper. The prints on the orange paper are con­ sidered the most interesting version of this print to date.




II. DESCRIPTION OF PLATE III A very coarse aquatint ground was applied, which contained many lumps of rosin as large as one-eighth of an inch in one of the dimensions. the plate, experimentally.

These were melted onto

The result suggested nothing

so much as the heavy rain which was pouring down on that particular day.

The figures were painted on completely

freehand, with stop-out varnish. First etch.

Twenty minutes in nine parts of

water, one part nitric.

As so large a part of the sur­

face of the plate was exposed, this bite was sufficient. Proof No* 1; the first proof was not comprehensible, as the painted out areas did not ex­ plain themselves. Therefore the en­ graved lines were added. These clarified the design. Proofs No. 2 to No. 15; inked with black etching ink; printed on Sevir paper. No problems were encountered in printing this simple aquatint. The plate stood up excellently. Wiping was rapid and easy.






Coarse but even-grained aquatint ground applied. Design painted on the plate freehand. First etch.

Fifteen minutes in weak nitric bath.

Proof No. 1; this proof was used to work from while doing the engraving. Engraved lines added. Proofs No. 2 to No. 44; inked with green and blue etching inks. This plate wiped rapidly and printed well. No particular problems had to be met while printing. With Proof No. 44 the squatint had be­ come quite weak. Second etch. tint ground applied. stopout.

Very coarse but even-grained aqua­ Unetched areas painted out with

Ten minutes in weak nitric bath (exact propor

tions unknown). Proofs No. 5 to No. 72; Sevir paper was used throughout this whole edition. Notes: It may be interesting to record that the printing of approximately seventy proofs of this plate was accomplished in seven hours of printing. This plate gives an appearance of being printed in three shades of blue, and of showing several depths of space, (not definite, but indicated).


"CHRISTMAS CARD" (Zinc-6" X 8")


IV. DESCRIPTION OF PLATE V Hard ground was applied evenly over plate.


plate was still hot and the ground still soft a piece of curtain marquisete was placed over the ground and the plate run through the press, with light pressure.

The unetched

areas were then painted out with stop-out varnish, freehand. First etch.

Thirty minutes in strong etch,


parts of water to one part of nitric). Proof No. 1 to No. 10; printed in black and brown etching ink on Sevir paper. Engraving.

It was felt that greater interest

could be added to this design by using a strong engraved line.

This was therefore done, a greater clarity result­

ed, as well as an effect of more color, as the engraved line printed black, while the aquatint printed grey, a considerably wider range of values was produced. Proofs No. 11 to No. 16; printed with black ink on Rhodendron Cover Stock. Linoleum color block. on Rhodendron.

This was laid on a blotter and put through

the press, giving a negative. were studied.

A proof well inked was made

This, and the positive,

Another very wet, fresh proof was then put

33 through the press on the linoleum, cut approximately to size.

The design then appeared on the linoleum exactly

as it does on the copper plate.

This was then cut to

give the color for proofs No. 16 plus.


" H O PELICANS AND A CHANE" (Copper-6" X $")


V. DESCRIPTION OF PLATE VI Fine grain aquatint applied.

Design painted free­

hand with stopout varnish. First etch.

Light etch, seven minutes in strong

nitric. Proofs No. 1 to No. 5; burnt umber and blue etching ink, poupee inking on Sevir paper. Second etch.

To give a difference in texture to

foreground and background a very coarse aquatint ground was applied to the foreground and the rest of the plate stopped out.

Seven minute etch in strong nitric. Proofs No. 6 to No. Engraving.

same inking as No. 1 to No. 5.

Lines and texture-pattern on legs added

with burin. Proof No. 9; black ink, Sevir paper. Third etch.

Soft ground (asphaltum, beeswax and

mutton tallow) applied all over plate.

Pieces of chicken

feathers were cut and pressed into the areas of the bird’s bodies.

A forty-five minute etch in iron perchloride was

used. Third state proofs No. 10 plus.


"THREE EMUS" (Copper-6" X 9” )


VI. DESCRIPTION OF PLATE VII Freehand burin engraving with reference to small sketch, no tracing on plate. First proof. Proof No. 1 and No. 2 show just the burin line. Medium coarse, even-grained aquatint shaken on through nylon stocking bag.

Shading of this aquatint was

accomplished by rubbing the light areas with lithograph crayon (soft, No. 4). First bite.

Spit biting was employed, spit was

put on those areas where the darks were desired, pure nitric


a medicine dropper, this was feathered

to prevent toomuch bite when

the nitric first dropped on.

Proof No. 3 used to work from. Hard ground was applied all over the plate.


etching needle the fine lines of leaf and wood textures were added.

Ten minutes in a medium nitric etch.

Proof No. 4, plus; no unusual problems were en­ countered in printing this plate. Criticism was made that the central areas were unclear. The plan at present is to try to correct this with burnishing. Sevir paper, Chinese rice paper and Rhodendron Cover Stock were all used successfully to print this plate.


"ZOO" (Thin Zinc and Aluminum A l l o y - 1 5 10")


VII. DESCRIPTION OF PLATE VIII A very coarse, uneven aquatint ground was applied. Following this the design was painted on with stopout varnish.

Eleven minutes in a strong nitric bath brought

out a bold relief.

On printing the first proof, however,

the design was found to be completely lost because of the extreme coarseness of the aquatint. The plate was turned over to the unpolished side. A finer rosin powder was sprinkled over it, and the design painted on with stop-out.

Twelve minutes was the time

the plate remained in a strong nitric bath.


strength unknown) Proofs No. 1 to No. 30 printed in burnt sienna etching ink on Sevir paper.

PLATE ¥111

't??* '' '


’ IMPS r#




v>. >4»


"BOOKPLATE" (Red Copper-4" X 5")

’% S a


VIII. DESCRIPTION OF PLATE IX A hard ground was applied to the plate.


still hot a nylon stocking, cut open, was laid over the plate with the ground, this was passed through the press. The first design was then painted on freehand with a stopout varnish. First etch. weak nitric acid.

A very light etch.

Four minutes in

As considerable reaction seemed to be

taking place the plate was removed from the etch. Proofs No. 1 to No. 12; black etching on Sevir paper. Soft ground was applied to the plate and a piece of cotton lace pressed into the ground.

Following this a

free-form design was painted on with stop-out.

An attempt

was made to relate this design to the Eskimo design.


teen minutes in a strong nitric bath seemed to have cut out the texture desired. Proofs No. 1 and No. 2, State 2; these proofs were so confused as to indicate further work was necessary. (This work not yet done).




"ESKIMO DESIGN”' (Red Copper-9M X 6M )


IX. DESCRIPTION 0? PLATE X The reverse side of a plate that had been previous­ ly used wasutilized for this


The surface used

was somewhat rough and scored and pitted.

The assumption

was that since Yaks are somewhat rough and uncouth creatures the roughness on the plate could be utilized. Hard ground applied. zoo sketches.

Drawing made


plate from

Strong acid bit (nitric) for one hour and

fifteen minutes.

The plate was forgotten in the bath.

Four biting was the result. Proof No. 1; the design was hardly legible. Suggestion was made that texture on the background would clarify the print. (Dr. HellerTs suggestion) Medium coarse, even grained acquatint ground applied to background.

Figures painted out with stop out.


etch in strong nitric; four minutes. Proof No. 2; slight improvement, in black proof. Proof No. 3; brown Yaks and green background, inked by poupee method. Somewhat clearer, but not satisfactory. Scraper and burnisher were used freely on the figures.

The scraper was used to cut down the areas which

were desired white.


Proofs No, 4 and No. 5; some improvement, unsatisfactory.


Steel wool was pressed into a soft ground in hopes of giving a hairy texture to the Yaks.

Light etch, five

minutes in strong nitric. Proof No. 6; still unsatisfactory. Proof No. 7; a plaster print was made. The ink was thinned with plate oil, sienna for the Yaks and green for background was applied by poupee. The plaster print was carved to show whites. Notes: From the effect of the plaster print it would appear that further scraping and burnishing might provide the whites necessary to clarify the design.


"YAKS" (Hard Cdpper-9,T X 6")


X. DESCRIPTION OF FLATE XI Design drawn on plate in drypoint. Proofs No. 1 to No. 12; hot hard ground had a piece of batiste pressed into it by running through the press. The whole plate was then etched without any areas being stopped out. This method somewhat re­ sembles the Manniere Noir. in that the whole plate would print a texturea dark solid color if printed at this point. Lights were scraped and burnished.

Lines added with

burin. Proofs No. 13 to No. 16; black and burnt sienna ink on Sevir paper. Scraper used to dig out the rope to print white and embossed. Proofs No. 17 to No. 20; Rives paper, black and sienna inks.