In a previous post, describing the bringing together of perspex drypoint prints together with letterpress text to create a booklet of the Peto Gardens at Iford, I expressed the frustration of resorting to the scanning of the drypoint prints and printing onto the book pages with an inkjet printer (on account of the very small number of reasonable prints available from each plate), when I would have far-preferred to use original prints instead.
It was at that point, I decided to give etching some serious thought for any future books, as this process would permit me to create a much greater run of prints off of one copper or zinc plate. I also knew that it was high-time I paid another visit to the Peto Gardens in order to study its Italianate structures and artefacts in much greater detail.
I made a return visit to Iford and the Peto Gardens during a very hot June afternoon, on the search for some fresh inspiration for a new project. The largest and most-ornate building within the gardens is the Cloisters built by Peto in 1914, and it was one of the carved stone lions guarding this building, that I later chose as the subject matter for a new hardground etching.
Despite recently taking a course in etching that introduced me to the process of aquatint to create different degrees of tone on the plate, I instead decided to stick with a crosshatch-shading approach instead, to give the work more of an Italian Renaissance-feel.
After several evenings with the etching needle, I decided that it was time to pay a visit to SpikePrint studio to etch the plate in their ferric chloride tank, clean the plate and take a quick proof.
With a successful proof taken it was back home to create a small edition on the Rollaco press. I also wanted to incorporate a print with a passage of suitable letterpress text on the same sheet of paper (Somerset 250gsm buff), to see how image and text would look within a future book.
As the image plate measured 200 x 150mm overall, I opted to compose a passage of text in 18pt Caslon Roman type, with a generous 6pt leading applied to provide an uncluttered and easy-to-read look. Although the alignment of plate and text on the test page was far from perfect, it has certainly provided plenty of encouragement to take these two processes forward for a future book.