Oxidation: The Challenge of Moody Inks Interacting with Copper Plate

reds_blues-50While the unpredictability of printmaking can provide surprising rewards, exploring a diverse range of chemical reactions and their impact on the colors is very intriguing.

During the “red” phase of my Color Investigation in Intaglio project the bright red hue that comes out of the 1 Lb. Block Print Sunburst Red no. 2656B starts oxidizing the copper as soon as it is applied to the plate and the ‘red’ turns into a brownish rusty shade.

At first, upon noticing ow the print lost line and shape definition because of the stiffness of the ink, I added Easy Wipe. It helped making it easier to wipe the plate and achieve more contrast. However, the more Easy Wipe I applied to the ink the more it oxidized (see images above).reds_blues-79

I am familiar with oxidation in cooking, particularly when using fresh apples on salads and pies. In that case, a few drops of lemon would stall the oxidation process. So, just for the sake of experimenting, I rubbed some lemon drops on the plate and slightly wiped it with tissue paper: it showed minimal results. I also tried to add some lemon directly to the ink, but that somehow seemed to increase oxidation and the ‘red’ ink got more brownish.

Vinegar was also applied directly to the plate with and it seemed not to stop or even delay the oxidation. I tried it with another ‘block’ red ink, Cardinal Red, much stiffer than Sunburst Red, and the result consistently was a purple, very close to grape juice.

At this point, the lesson is that: in printmaking what you see at first is not what you get. Do not trust the first impression and just let its universe run freely.

This entry was posted in Art, Printmaking.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.