somewhere I used go…


In university, I studied Fine Arts with a focus in printmaking. What I was best at and enjoyed the most was intaglio (the ‘g’ is silent), etching zinc or copper with nitric acid to create a texture that would then hold ink to be transfered onto paper. While I’ve been home, i started visiting the printshop in town where I first learned intaglio before I left for university. I was rusty and forgot a lot, but somethings still remained. I had it in mind to do a sort of traditional Korean painting style print, so I covered the plate in a rosin powder, heated it until it bonded to the zinc to create a texture for the acid to bite around, then painted my image on with a ‘sugar lift’ solution. It’s sugar water with a bit of high quality India ink so you can see it. When the sugar lift is dry, I painted on a thin coat of liquid hard ground, a waxy material, dissolved in solvent, that resists the nitric acid, keeping the zinc plate from being eaten.

Once the ground was dry, I ran it under cold water until the sugar began to dissolve, lifting the ground, and leaving an open space for the acid to do it’s job. After a few minutes bathing in the acid, it’s ready to be cleaned off, proofed, and reworked until the plate is ready for printing. Since it’s a print, much like a stamp, the final image is in reverse. I was actually more pleased with the image as it was painted in sugar, but the results weren’t too bad for my first plate in six years. It’s an image I’ll probably work with for a while and see what evolves from it. It’s based on a small hermitage I used to stop at on my way up and down the trail to Gatbawi in Palgongsan. I always loved the little images on Thai amulets but was also influenced by the art work in Hanmaeum’s A Thousand Hands of Compassion.



8 responses »

  1. Stunning!

    That is so beautiful! And the blog post explaining the process, and the photos giving the background to the image, are just wonderful! Thank you so much!

    Serious question: How many prints did you make and how can people purchase them?

    (Plus your great Bodhidarma pictures too!)

    Wow. Off to get my breath back. Amazing.


    • Hey Marcus,
      I wasn’t so much ignoring you here as much as trying to think of something you’d agree to…
      I’ve only printed a few, so far, but when I get back from New York, I’m going to spend a whole day printing. I already wanted to send one to you as a gift, so what I’d like to propose is that you could make a small donation (20 or 30 baht) at your temple of choice and send out some Bodhicitta for me!

      It’s actually the smallest print I’ve ever made. The zinc was pretty much a scrap, the paper was something I had left over from university, and the ink was provided by the shop. I’d love to send you one, anyway!

  2. Hi
    Great post I heard you have been showing my mother how to do etching too.
    I have been wood block prints, actually I finished the wood block just have to try printing it maybe this weekend.

    • Hi Ben~
      Thank you!
      Your mom is a great artist! I brought her to the printmaking studio, her first etching made everyone go, “Wow!” haha
      You’re probably not surprised… ^^
      I’m so happy I had a chance to meet Isao while I’ve been home. My wife and I are both very fond of her.

      How did your printing go? I’m thinking about trying woodblock printing when I get back to Korea.

      thank you for checking out my blog,

  3. Nice! I also really like the painting you sent me. I’m framing it as soon as I get a frame, thank you.

    I bet you guys are getting excited for NY. Joketta! (in a whiny voice) 🙂

  4. Hi Joseph,

    Thank you so much! I got an email from Chong Go Sunim yesterday telling me it was on its way, and I picked the print up at the seonwon this morning. And only now have I seen your comment here!

    I’m overwhelmed. It is so precious. I deliberately don’t have much stuff (a suitcase-full, a few boxes of things at my parents’ house), especially not pictures and the like, but this I will always always keep, frame nicely, and treasure.

    Wow. I can’t tell you how grateful I am, and how overwhelmed. And I’m off to a temple right now to further spread your wonderful kindness and love. Thank you so much Joseph.

    With palms together in gratitude and loving-kindness,


  5. PS – I’m serious by the way – you really ought to be selling your work! I’m sure there is a huge number of people out there that would love to have some of your art on their walls.

    But, anyway, thank you again so so much. This print is priceless beyond measure, and I’m deeply touched and deeply grateful. Thank you.

    • I’m really pleased you like it so much!
      I sold a few things here and there back in Canada, but I fell out of the scene, so to speak! haha
      I’d like to start making things in Korea, though. It would be a good experience!

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