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.