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A Natural Progression: Scratchboard to Etching

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pictured above: One of my scratchboard illustrations, c. 1996


My background in scratchboard illustration has lead me to explore etching in my jewelry work.

Scrathboard illustration involves coating a piece of illustration board with wax, and then again with ink. The ink is allowed to dry, and then removed one stroke at a time with a scraping tool (I like to use X-acto knives). These strokes remove areas of ink, thus revealing the white board beneath. Scratrchboard illustration is fun and challenging, because one must think in "reverse" when drawing in this medium; everywhere that you "draw" will create a light mark, rather than a dark one.

The etching process is similar, so it's a natural progression for me. The technique that I use is acid-based. I coat a piece of metal in asphaltum, a syrupy black mixture of asphalt and turpentine. Once the coating dries, I scratch into the tar using a steel scribe, revealing the metal beneath. The metal is then submerged in an acid bath – ferric chloride for base metals like bronze or copper, and nitric acid for sterling silver. The areas where the metal is revealed will be eaten away by the acid, creating a dimensional pattern on the surface of the metal.

Click here for a timelpase video that shows me etching a piece of bronze.

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