Print-making had always fascinated me, but I never thought I would ever have the possibility of exploring its possibilities, because there was so much technical ability needed. But then by chance a friend asked me to join a print-making class which was held for outside students, and luck was with us, for there we met Michael Carlo, one of the best teachers of print-making ever. He encouraged each of us to experiment, and with his technical help,I was able to try out various new ideas in print-making which may inspire others to try out and experiment with for themselves.
The first essential for someone starting out, is to find a good class or workshop. The equipment is so costly, the mess is so unsavory, and the acids so dangerous, that joining a good class is virtually the only solution. Luckily, more and more art colleges are opening their doors to outsiders who only wish to do one or two classes a week. There are also workshops around the country, and even residential print-making courses. The next step is to make friends with your tutor or technician so that you get technical help with your ideas. (For example, in the sawing of metal plates!) Once you are backed by a friendly teacher and/or technician- the sky's the limit!
At first the difficulties of working with metal and the dangers inherent in working with strong acids are a bit off-putting, and one needs a reliable and helpful guide with a lot of encouragement to get one past the first few problems. An aspiring student must be prepared to do a few bad etchings before he or she is successful. After that the fun begins.
The first experiment I did was to try the effect of floating the oil-based wax coating on water, giving a delicate stir, and then dipping a zinc plate face down into it. The plate is then removed, left to dry, and put into acid. The result was a "watered silk " effect, sometimes (though not always) of great beauty.
I printed this up, and then studied the result with great care turning it sideways and upside down until I seemed to see a picture emerging; rather like seeing pictures in the fire.