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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Etching - Mezzotint

[Etching]  [Dry-Point (pointe-seche)]  [Preparing The Plate For Acid]  [Drawing On The Plate]  [Biting The Plate]  [Reworking Ground]  [Soft Ground]  [Aquatint]  [Mezzotint]  [A First Experiment In Etching] 

( Originally Published 1917 )

The mezzotint rocker or cradle is shaped like the rocker of a child's cradle. It is a piece of steel about 2 1/2, inches wide and 1/2, inch thick. One end is rounded to the segment of a circle and shaped like a chisel. On the side corresponding to the back of the chisel a number of parallel grooves are run perpendicular to the chisel edge. There are from 40 to 120 of these grooves to an inch. The intersections of these grooves and the chiselled edge become a series of sharp teeth. The rocker may have a wooden handle or it may be clamped to a long rod not unlike a billiard cue and rocked by allowing the other end of the rod to run in a groove set perpendicular to the plate. A small rocker in a handle can be used to go over a place where too much burr has been removed. Use a burnisher to polish the surface for strong lights. Olive oil and lamp black rubbed over the plate gives an idea of the plate's condition. A proof may be printed to serve as a guide. By varying the number of teeth in the rocker you change the grain. Seventy-two teeth to the inch is the usual number employed. The fewer teeth the coarser the grain. Rocking costs about ten cents a square inch. The teeth of the rocker make a hole in the plate's surface and also raise a burr. The greater the amount of burr removed the lighter the tone.

The mezzotint scraper is shaped something like the blade of a knife, but it is sharpened at the end only. To transfer an outline to a rocked plate, use red chalk transfer paper, first smoking the plate. A blunted dry-point needle may be used to fix the outlines. In scraping, one should be careful to follow the last stroke or the work will be uneven. Mezzotint may be combined with dry-point. Use a dull point in order that the work may be the more harmonious.

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