Close ups of copper stereotypes copies of chard wood.
In the Depths
Corroded Copper 21 x 38 cm
Electrolytic action on copper
An old lump of concrete that looks like it has spent many years in the sea was found on Abergele beach. Its colours and texture make it a natural fit with this electroformed pear.
Although the starting place for the research was focused on electro-etching for printmaking the use of electrolysis in making sculptural 3D objects is becoming an area of interest for me, especially after the visit to the Castle Fine Art Forge.
The research journey has been an interesting one. For me there has been a fusion of the research and the making of objects each process informing the other. In my artist statement I describe the idea of the two journeys, the inner and outer that I believe happen in the making of art objects. This could be mistaken as meaning that my work is process driven, that is the creative journey is more important than the product. In the production of this object the narratives of all three are important and are fused into it. The narratives of the two journeys, and the two objects that are now one, encompass constant change. As an art object it is a still life and as such is a reminder of death in life.
This zinc plate has been allowed to corrode all the way through in places. The original batteries made to produce electricity in the 1830s were made by hanging a plate of copper and one of zinc in a solution of copper sulphate. Thomas Spencer observed that copper was deposited on the copper plate (the cathode, negative pole) and that the zinc (anode, positive pole) was etched.He and John Wilson patented this process in 1840.
This plate was made by shorting out such a battery.
The copper plates that these prints were taken from have been both electro-etched and plated. The top of the plate for the first print was roughly plated with steel around the etched copper circle. By combining etching and plating processes the plates are sculpted and are more like collagraphs than traditional etched plates. The initial focus of my research into electro-etching was based on it being safer than traditional acid etching and it undoubtably is but the real attraction is the wider range of the mark making potential of electro-etch.
It is well known that each metal responds colouring media in different ways but probably less well known that the each metal has its own signature response to electrolysis. The next phase of the research is to explore this through the making process.
Electro-etching has been around since 1840 when Spencer and Wilson were granted a patent for it. Gottfried Wilson Osann recommended the process to his fellow scientists to illustrate their own books claiming that it was so easy done on their own desks. Despite the ease of use, the lack of toxic fumes and that the process bites fine precise lines it has not so far been widely accepted within the printmaking community.