Arm Umbrella

Back in second semester, freshman year (oh, spring 2007! How I miss thee!) I took an etching class. I really liked etching but I wasn't very good at making it a top priority, so I didn't get as much etching done as I would have liked. I did, however, complete four nice pictures, the first of which you see here.

Etching is an arduous and lengthy process of coating zinc or copper plates in tar, scratching out the picture you want, dipping the plate in acid for a very specific number of seconds, wiping off the tar leaving an etched drawing, coating that scratched up plate with ink, wiping the ink off the surface of the plate while leaving the grooves full, and then running that plate along with a soaking wet piece of paper through a giant felt press. This process is repeated over and over and over, with multiple tar coats and acid baths, until you get the desired result.

I chose to make my first image one of a little girl holding an arm umbrella. The arm umbrella was an invention of mine shortly before school started that I became very attached to for about a year. Arm umbrellas pop up in my sketchbooks of the time, in a painting, and in this etching. I liked the visual confusion created by the object, and the kind of fairytale association, especially when being clutched by a little girl. In this picture, you're not sure if she's being protected, as an adult clutches a child, or is about to be taken away. A kind of Mary Poppins-by-force mode of transportation. This idea is made more sinister by the surroundings I added in a second acid bath. She and her umbrella are at some totally messed up face circus thing. Ultimately I don't actually like this image very much. I think her face could've been rendered a lot better, and the Tim Burton type imagery is ham-handed and meaningless. I'm reminded of countless abduction/circus/hallucinatory/nightmare/little girl stories about how freaky it is to be a kid. It's cliché.

The other way to mess with your etchings is play with the ink and the paper and how you apply them.

This last one I like the best, since the background fades out more (that was accomplished through a process involving spraypaint and acid, totally punk rock). While I'm not satisfied with this plate on the whole, I still really like the idea of an arm umbrella.

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