More About Etchings – Mary E. Hutchinson Site
June 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
This Bearded Man (ca. 1929) is another etching done by Mary E. Hutchinson as a student at the National Academy of Design. You can see other examples of her work at my digital archiving site The Artwork of Mary E. Hutchinson at http://meh.omeka.net.
A few posts back, I shared a bit of a letter Hutchinson wrote to her mother (Minnie Belle Hutchinson) describing the etching process. Here’s more from a second letter she wrote a few days later in late January or early February, 1929:
“I had to turn in some work today at school for the exams – all classes. In the etching class, I finished drawing on my first plate, biting it and cleaning it all ready for printing. I think I explained to you the preparing of the rosin ground on the plate – heating, waxing, rolling, smoking, rinsing. If the ground has a good gloss, is thin, and yet thoroughly covers and protects the plate, it is all right for drawing. First you make a drawing on paper to get your placement and effects of shading (just the scratches on the plate are very confusing to the eye, and besides allow for no change at all). You finish your drawing, then shave off some fine red chalk like powder and rub onto the back of the paper, very smooth. You then fold the paper carefully on the prepared plate, and with a sharp pencil go over your main lines, which trace on the wax but do not cut through, of course. Then you work direct on the plate from the model, and it certainly is confusing. The model poses three times, in this case last Saturday morning, Thursday afternoon and this morning. But during that time you have to work on your plate as well as draw. I finished drawing about the middle of the morning. Then the complicated process of biting the plate. The back of the plate, sides, any exposed spot on the plate must be painted with asphaltum to protect it from the acid. When this is thoroughly dry you place the plate on a string and with that dip it in acid for two minutes, feathering it all the while, to keep air bubbles out of the lines. After biting you wash the plate in water and blot it. With more asphaltum you again stop out parts, delicate lines you do not want to go too deep in the plate. After two or three such bitings in the acid, you clean all the ground off, and the plate is ready for printing.”