This has been a really slow week for me again, as I’ve had to take some time to recover from attending a workshop last week-end. I have a number of things I’m keen to share with you all but I just couldn’t spend much time online, and even commenting or replying to comments has been too much.So please accept my apologies if you have posted recently and I haven’t been it touch.
Do you remember that wonderful blue liquid in the science lab at school? It was my favourite colour at the time, and I always remember it was copper sulphate. We didn’t often use it in the experiments we worked on, but it was a personal favourite (I know, who has a favourite chemical? I was a weird kid!)
So it was quite nice to find that copper sulphate can be used as an etch for printmaking and that it is one of the least toxic options.
These past few years I’ve been quite enamoured of etching, while at the same time being a bit scared of the chemicals involved. I realize that ceramics involves some nasty things too, but the thing that worries me about etching is it’s acid (ouch!) AND it gives off fumes.
I’ve been very hesitant about delving into etching because if it’s going to work for me, I need to be able to set myself up here in my home. A lot of people with CFS/ME have severe chemical sensitivities, and while it’s not really a major problem for me, perfumes have been known to make my nose run and give me a bit of a headache. I don’t need to add to my problems by exposing myself to further potential neurological damage by introducing toxins to my home.
So when I saw that Impress Printmakers were holding a workshop on Sunday on etching aluminium with copper sulphate, advertising it as a cheaper, low-toxic alternative, suitable for the home studio, I was quick to enrol. After the workshop I did some research online, particularly here and here, and discovered that the process really is low toxic. A very small amount of hydrogen gas is created, but it really isn’t considered dangerous, even inside, and I am planning to work out on our covered patio.
So perhaps I can really get on my way with printmaking now. Above I’ve posted scans of the two plates I made at the workshop. They both need further work to develop some strong blacks, but it was great fun getting this far. I’m actually really drawn to the plates themselves, and can see they may become artworks/book covers themselves. Has anybody else tried etching with copper sulphate?