Owl Moon

A mezzotint print

Owl Moon

A mezzotint print is probably the greenist way of making a print, no chemicals are used to prepare the plate. However, it is the most labor intensive for the artist. This was my first, and only attempt at mezzotint. The process uses specical tools, called rockers, which have a curved edge, and "teeth", at so many per inch called a gauge. These tools come in standard width sizes 1/2, 1, 1 ½, 2, 2 ½, 3, 4, 5 & 6 inches wide. The gauge (screen) sizes are available in Course (45), Medium (65 and 85), and Fine (100) lines per inch. I own just a single rocker, 2 ½ withh 65 teeth per inch. Which cost $125. The tiny rockers start around $45 up to the largest for $245.

To create a mezzotint, the rockers are used rough up the plate. To rock the plate, the rocker is tipped side to side, acros the plate, each "rock" will incise a row of dots into the coper plate, once the entire plate has been rocker, turn the plate 15 degrees, and repeat. Continue this for many turns. If inked and printed a completely rocked plate should print solid black image. The next step involves 2 tools, a scapper and a burnisher. If you think of the tonal qualities on a scale 1 to 10, Where 1 is white and 10 is black. You can use the scapper to remove some of the copper, any part removed will have a lower tonal quality, you can use the burnisher to further smooth the copper surface, to lower the tonal quality further, all the way down to 1 if desired. Additionally you can use engraving tools to add lines to the print.

To create the Owl Moon print, the plate was rocked, the scapper was used for the walls, floor and window, the burnisher was used to create the moon, and the engraving tools were used to add back in the details. If too much material is removed, portions of the plate may need to be rerocked, this is where to smaller rockers come in handy.

Intermediate prints are made to check the progress, and once finished, the final series of prints can be created.

If you come across a mezzotint print, it took an enormous amount of work and skill to create the final print. You should be in awe, I am.