Who says etching can’t be done in schools?

Back in June we had the pleasure of returning to King Edward VI School in Southampton to run a two day etching workshop as part of their Arts Festival.

This was the first time we’ve offered etching in a school as any one who etches will know that it requires quite a lot of ‘stuff’ and the technique is too time consuming to do in a one hour or even double period lesson.

But with the luxury of two whole days and an enthusiastic Art Team led by Graham Piggott we were good to go. 

Starting point

We worked with two groups of year nine pupils who were new to etching. Drawing from their sketches and photographs they had taken for other art projects, we began to adapt their images for etching, separating their images into line, tone and texture elements. 

 Step by step approach

We worked through the etching process stage by stage beginning with a simple line etch for the structure of the image. Then moving on to tonal work to get some lovely deep, dramatic blacks in the images and finally textural etching to give a really good variety of marks. 

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A conversation between a collection of tiny etching plates

As we were working with a large group of students and we needed to get the plates etched quite quickly we decided to work with small etching plates. The advantage of this was that it would give the pupils an insight into the technique but also enable the plates to be inked up and printed together as a composite piece. There was quite a bit of discussion and rearranging of plates to get them in an acceptable composition.

 The competitive side.

It was entertaining to see the pupils competitive side coming out when they knew that their etching plate would be printed alongside everyone else in the group. Feverish plate inking ensued.

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The moment of truth

There was an extra tingle of excitement as the printing team lowered the printing paper down on to twenty jewel like tiny etching plates and put it through the press. To revel a beautiful group print.

Graham was delighted with how it had gone, thanking us for the “Brilliant” workshops. We were extremely pleased with the way that the workshops had run and were particularly touched by several of the students who made a point of coming up to thank us. It was great to be able to give this group of students and staff an introduction to this wonderful printmaking technique and to see their fabulous resulting prints.

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