I managed to fence off some time to myself today so that I can get started on some experiments with saline etching on aluminium, but of course realised that first I have to make some marks on the plate! My thoughts turned to lift ground etching, but then I realised that I no longer have my trusty bottle of Camp Coffee, which I’ve never actually made up as a drink but which has stood me in good stead for years as a sugar solution for lift grounds. I guess it was one of the things I had to ditch when I moved over here: the Australian Quarantine Service is justifiably hot on examining the luggage and personal possessions of people moving over here, and I had to get rid of loads of stuff… everything from pine cones in with the Christmas decorations to bits of bark I used to make rubbings. Spike Island Printmakers in Bristol were the lucky recipients of a lot of my printmaking chemicals that I couldn’t bring over here, so maybe they’re using up the Camp Coffee now?
Sugar syrup, yummy
Anyway, I dug out my trusty copy of The Complete Printmaker by John Ross, Clare Romano and Tim Ross (ISBN 0-02-927372-2 for the paperback version), and found several recipes for making lift grounds. In the end I mixed together some gum arabic (a small dollop), some black and some red liquid gouache (because I only have small tubes and didn’t want to use up all the black!) and a small squirt of washing up liquid, and then I decided to stop mucking around and make some sugar syrup (small amount of water, large pouring of sugar, stirred over a low heat until dissolved and then boiled vigourously for 2 minutes, then cooled and bottled), which I added to the gum arabic/washing up liquid/gouache mixture and duly painted onto my aluminium plate. Voila! As I speak, it’s drying nicely on the plate.