We are now stocking B.I.G - Baldwins Ink Ground. It is a safer alternative to Hard and Soft Ground, and it allows the printmaker to experiment with many different effects on their etching plate. Techniques ranging from soft and hard ground, photo etching, marbling, relief etching, sandpaper aquatints and coffee lift are but a few which can be explored.
You can buy it from our shop here.
A step by step guide to using BIG Etching Ground
1. Bevel the edge of the plate.
2. Degrease the plate (using vinegar and a little whiting as this is a healthier option) making sure all deposits of whiting are removed from both sides of the plate when drying it.
3. The secret to a successful application of the BIG ground is to roll the plate up evenly and not too heavily. Squeeze a small amount of the ground onto a glass pallet. Spread it out with a pallet knife and roll it up (a good quality roller helps). Pass the loaded roller over the plate in a fairly vigorous fashion. At first the plate will take on a sort of eggshell appearance.
4. At this stage you can treat the ground in the same way as you would a soft ground. If however you wish to create a hard ground you must now bake the plate. (The ideal method is to do this in an oven, but a hot plate will do. With each of these methods it is important to keep the dust levels low. It is equally important that the temperature and the length of baking time are correct relative to each other, as although the ground would perform well at the initial stages, problems may arise when removing the ground if the temperature has been set too high for too long. As a benchmark, a temperature of 135C for 6mins works well, but you can increase the temperature and reduce the time slightly if you wish. To assess whether the plate is dry or not, first let the plate cool down, as while the plate is still hot the ground remains tacky.
5. You should now have a perfect working ground. Unlike traditional grounds BIG will retain its quality indefinitely and will not dry out. It is also possible to draw preliminary sketches on the surface of the ground using a soft pencil; (litho pencil No. 1) If you accidentally scratch the plate you can use a permanent marker pen to cover the marks, or alternatively, apply BIG stopout. It is important to allow the ground to cure for at least half an hour after cooling before you bite the plate.
6. To remove the ground, simply give it a quick polish with Brasso or you could use a non toxic stripper. Remember, if removing the ground proves difficult you have probably baked the plate for too long. The ground can also be removed with any washing powder and hot water if the plate was backed several days earlier.