How to make your own mezzotint plate

First, take a nice shiny copper plate and rock the mezzotint rocker across its surface to cover it in lots of wee dots.

Mezzotint plate printmaking
Rocking the mezzotint rocker

As you add work across the surface of the plate you will create more and more wee dents that will hold the ink nicely.

Mezzotint plate printmaking
After one hour of rocking

After a while you will see that it is possible to create a nice black tone.

Mezzotint plate printmaking
The plate four hours later
mezzotint4
(8 hours later)

After about a day of mezzotint rocking you will be close to getting a nice, even texture to your plate. You will have decided that the £35 that the art shop was charging for machine mezzotinted plates was an absolute bargain. You will go to bed and dream about mezzotint rocking that night.

mezzotint5
12 hours later. You have vowed never to mezzotint a copper plate by hand again, but your 10x15cm plate will print a nice rich black.

You create your image on the mezzotinted plate by selectively polishing areas of the plate so they don’t hold the ink as well.

mezzotint6
Mezzotint print of trout and moth y Angus Grant

The polished bits will be a lighter tone. You will have to make lots of test prints along the way to see how you’re doing. It makes all the hand rocking worth it to see the finished print. Honest.

MezzotintpPrint of a trout swimming towards a moth

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