Emily Mason and I first met when she was commissioned by the Associated American Artist print gallery to make an intaglio print. At the time, I was working for Catherine Mosely who was contracted to be the master printer for the project. When creating the first plates for the print, Emily became frustrated with the limited results she was getting from traditional etching techniques. Trying to figure out how to move forward and bring better resolve to the image, she consulted her friend Tony Kirk, head of the etching department at Tyler Graphics. He suggested trying an innovative printmaking technique that the artist Joan Miró had used in the 1960s,
Joan Miró La Femme Aux Bijoux 1968
which allowed flexibility and direct expression in the plate creation process. The technique was simple and brilliant: combine metal carborundum grit with glue, paint the mixture directly on the plate, let it dry, then ink and print up the plate in the same manner as a traditional etched aquatint. Combining etched copper plates and the new technique produced the lovely results achieved in Soft The Sun.
Emily Mason Soft The Sun 1989
Delighted by the discovery of working with carborundum aquatint, free from the constraints of the rules and limitations of traditional printing techniques, Emily and I continued working on our own to explore the process further. In her Manhattan studio, she would map out brush stroke separations on stacks of clear Plexiglas plates and then paint with the carborundum mixture. Once a week, with new plates under her arm, she traveled to Brooklyn and we would proof and print together in my studio. Emily choosing hues and cans of color inspired by the day, carding on freshly mixed inks onto the plates, working the ink with tarleton and laying the plate and paper on the bed. Turning the crank handle, the thump of the plate completing its pass through the rollers signaling the fresh impression, pulling off and tacking to the wall for looking. Prints back into the water for re-soaking - thoughtful additions to be printed on top. Glowing veils of transparent color or thick and opaque, printing the same plate twice or on dry ink from the week before, all contributed to an exciting depth and dimension in color and image. Working in tandem, collaborating, allowing for intuition and playfulness to take over. The rhythm of printing week to week, creating stacks of works in progress, transferring prints to the finished pile only when "nothing" else could be added.
Emily Mason Carborundum Aquatint Print 2000
Emily Mason Carborundum Aquatint Print 2010
Available for sale by clicking the images above.