Liz Miller - Print Partner Report

Print Partnership Scheme
4th – 14th August 2009
I grew up on the Wirral just over the Mersey River from Liverpool, so it was a pleasure to come back to this great city after 7 years working and studying in the field of printmaking in Edinburgh and London.

Having come from using the nitric acid system of etching, I wanted to use my time at the Bluecoat to experiment with the ‘safe’ etching system using copper sulphate.

Experiment One: Hard Resist
The Lascaux hard resist was one of the most difficult mediums to adapt to. I found that the etching needle could not easily glide through the hardened resistant layer and a puckered, broken line would result due to the pressure that was needed in order to make the marks. However, these scratchy marks could be used to create interesting textures.

Experiment Two: Hard Resist and Block Ink
By mixing one part hard resist to six parts block printing ink, the toughness of the resistant layer was measurably decreased. This made the lines smooth and delicate. Yet, when these lines were etched in the Copper Sulphate, because the resist wasn’t very strong, a fair amount of foul biting occurred. This could also be used to advantageous results, as the textures of foul biting are often quite interesting.

Experiment Three: Soft Resist
Soft-edged lines could be achieved by using the 1:6 mix of hard resist and block printing ink, by drawing onto the plate through a piece of tracing or tissue paper, before the medium had fully dried. As soft lines take far shorter time to etch in the copper sulphate, little or no foul biting occurred.

Experiment Four: Aquatint
This ‘safe’ system of aquatint, used to create areas tone on etching plates, worked very well. I was really pleased with the results

My time at the Bluecoat print studio was most valuable, not only to understand and experiment with the ‘safe’ etching process, but also to continue my investigation into map making. In this mini project I developed studies of musical graphic score for traditional Brazilian music.

To see more of my work please visit my blog: