Etching Featured on Mary E. Hutchinson Site
June 9, 2013 § 1 Comment
As a student at the National Academy of Design in New York, Mary E. Hutchinson learned to work in a variety of media including the art of etching which was very popular in the 1920s. She viewed the Cathedral of St. John the Divine from her apartment window every day and made both an etching and a drawing of it.
Hutchinson began etching in January 1929 and wrote her mother, Minnie Belle, a detailed description of the process:
“I can stay in the etching class all right I think, but I have such loads to learn! Mr. Leavy came in yesterday morning. So Friday afternoon I worked, lay[ing] another ground on a plate, and printing the trial plate I had made. Part of Thursday I worked in the room, biting my trial plate. I certainly make lot of slips, with no one to tell me much.
You first take a zinc plate, clean it with the finest emory paper and then benzene. You put the plate on a stone, holding it with a vice. When it is almost hot enough to sizzle (but it must not sizzle), you rub rosin on it through a silk rag; then with a rubber roller, you roll the wax very evenly, and very thin on the plate. The heat of the plate must be just right to do this, and your pressure just right, and even the most experienced often have to lay a ground three or four times before it is right. The coating has to be very thin, yet perfectly cover the plate. Any part too thin, or a tiny porous place like a pin mark, the acid will bite through. When the ground is on right, and the plate still warm, it is smoked then cooled. That is all I had better explain at present.”