I’ve been working on a set of drypoint etchings of Maiden Castle in Dorset over the last few months and thought I’d share some of the results and give an insight into my working method.
For those not in the know, there is no castle at Maiden Castle (confusingly). It is the remains of a massive iron age fort just outside Dorchester and one of my favourite haunts when in Dorset. I wanted to get across the sheer size of the site, so scale was important, as well as the flow of the ramparts- they almost seem part of the landscape rather then added to it.
I started with a fairly rough and ready drypoint scratched into aluminium- the bare bones or skeleton of the pieces you might say. I use an old lino cutting tool to gouge quite deep scratches into the metal.
At the same time, I will be making what I call ‘backgrounds’- hand mono-prints on tissue or thin paper that can be collaged into the etching while it’s printed. Again these don’t have to be particularly accurate, it’s more about texture, colour and atmosphere. I’m also not too fussy about how they fit into the design of the image- in this one I took advantage of paper already cut into a shape to enhance the feeling of flow.
Next up, is to print the plate with the ‘backgrounds’ collaged in. At this stage I’m not too worried about how each print turns out, as a ‘bad’ print can sometimes be turned around with mono-printing afterwards, or, in fact, lead to hitherto unknown directions.
In this particular edition, I also rolled ink straight onto the plate, thereby getting drypoint line, colour and texture from the background collage and colour from the plate all in one pass of the press. I print onto Somerset Satin etching paper, as well as Japanese paper as below.
I can then take all the results back to my home studio where the fun really begins- adding colour and texture via hand printing onto the etchings- each one different.
On these prints I also have hand drawn ‘characters’ walking the ramparts and added the ever present birds with little hand made stamps.
Even the two most un-promising prints- proofs really- have actually turned out pretty well, probably because I wasn’t too precious about what I did to them.
As you can see the results are very varied.