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Acrylic Grounds in Intaglio

The technique of intaglio was developed about 500 years ago and has until recently been used by artists with the almost original materials. The traditional materials are oil-based varnishes and grounds made from asphalt, resin or tar. Also organic solvents are used. These materials can cause health problems.

Meanwhile alternative methods with less toxic, water-based materials from acrylic were developed by several printmakers and suppliers.

On this page you can get an impression of how to work with acrylic grounds.

 

Hard Ground
Soft Ground
Water-colour Effects
Aquatint
Lift Ground

 

Hard Ground

There are several acrylic hard grounds. Some are poured onto the plate, some can be applied with a brush. This is an example of the Johnson Clear Polish hard ground.

 

Soft Ground

One option for an acrylic soft ground is the water-based ink "Crimson Red N° 166" from Graphic Chemical. It can be used as a roll-on soft- and hard ground. Mixed with an acrylic binder, it can be used as a soft ground while the mixture is still moist. After hardening it can be worked on as a hard ground. This way, both techniques can be combined in one step.

Fig.: soft ground with short, middle and long etching times (from left to right) with letters drawn in the hardened ground

The ink is mixed with an acrylic binder in a 2:1 ratio and rolled onto the plate in thin layers. After 15 minutes, the plate is ready for being worked on like a traditional soft ground.

Fig.: soft ground impression

After hardening, the ground can be used like a hard ground.

Fig.: hard ground

 

Water-colour Effects

The black water based ink "Black No. 1659" from Graphic Chemical allows creating water-colour effects. Mixed with distilled water, the ink is painted onto the plate, creating a kind of aquatint grain.

 

 

Aquatint

Instead of applying an aquatint grain from asphalt or resin dust, acrylic aquatint can be sprayed onto a plate with an airbrush. The airbrush can also be a part of the creative process.

 

 

Lift Ground

Like the traditional sugar lift, also lift ground with water-based materials is based on the fact that water repels oil.

After working on the plate with oil-based materials like oil crayon, lipstick or coconut oil, the plate is covered with an acrylic ground by pouring or spraying it onto the plate.
After hardening, the oily areas are wiped out with a soft rag.
The carefully degreased plate has to be prepared with an aquatint before being etched.

 

 


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