Carol Wax

Carol Wax

Peekskill, NY
Writer’s Blocks, Color Mezzotint and Engraving
18 x 16

Mezzotint is a form of engraving but, unlike burin or line engraving, tonal images are created deductively. It’s similar to drawing by blackening white paper with charcoal and creating an image by erasing the charcoal. In mezzotint, a copper plate (that would normally print white) is made to print black by roughening the surface using a tool with a serrated blade called a rocker. Systematically rocking in many directions pricks up thousands of tiny copper burrs, creating a field of burrs that hold ink and print as a velvety black tone. To make the image, the burred ground is incrementally scraped away or burnished down. The more burr is removed or squashed, the less ink is held and the lighter the shade of grey will print. Removing the ground entirely produces white. The ability to achieve dramatic chiaroscuro lighting effects through the mezzotint engraving process drew me to the medium.

RECIPE
I. Bevel edges of a copper plate
2. To create ground, use mezzotint rocker (any gauge) to rock in 24 to 36 directions over plate surface
3. Transfer image to rocked plate by tracing over carbon paper
4. Sharpen scraper and selectively shave down ground or use burnisher to squash ground in increments to create grey tones
5. Remove ground completely and polish to obtain white
6. Repeat process on separate plates if several colors are required
7. To print, roll etching ink onto plate
8. Wipe off excess ink with tarlatan, then Wipe with palm of hand or fingertips
9. Clean plate edges
10. Place plate on bed of rolling press
I I. Place dampened paper over plate
12. Cover paper with woolen felts
13. Run through press
14. For color: repeat inking and wiping separate plate(s) and print in registration with
first plate (Note: For multiple plates, print key plate last.)
15. Slowly peel paper off plate, place between blotters to dry for at least 24 hours