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WPA Collection: Graphic Arts Processes

 

Soft Ground (Vernis Mou) - An Intaglio Process


        Sugar Maple by Kalman Kubinyi
          Soft Ground, 13 3/4" x 9 1/2"


The line bitten by this method is a granulated or broken one resembling that of chalk or crayon drawing on a granulated surface. It lends itself very well to being used in combination with aquatint. Lumsden in his excellent book the describes the process in the following manner: "The principle of working is a simple one in theory - more difficult in practice - and consists in laying a ground which has the property of sticking to whatever touches it, and can be readily removed from the plate by this means: leaving the metal exposed to the action of a mordant in those places, but nowhere else. "The drawing is actually done upon a sheet of paper laid over the ground. The pressure of the point, heavy or light, upon this covering causes the wax to adhere more or less to its under-surface. When the drawing is finished the paper is peeled off and, wherever the point touches, the ground comes away with it." The plate is now "bitten" in the mordant or acid bath. The ground is removed and the plate is printed in the same manner as all intaglio plates are printed. Lumsden further states: "The quality obtained by the broken line is extremely pleasing and particularly suitable for the note or sketch, but lacks the decision of the needle-drawn method."

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