Nikki Barber, Vitreography print Vitreography is a new form of printmaking in which the artist works their image into a glass plate, instead of wood, metal, linoleum, or plastic. Invented in the 1970’s by a glass artist named Harvey Littleton, printing on glass is a non-toxic process that offers sophisticated effects. Since it’s such a young form of printmaking, not many people know about it. In fact, the only teacher other than Nikki Barber at the League who offers vitreography classes in Seattle is Ben Beres, at Cornish. As you probably know, I had been making drypoints recently, and though I liked some of the effects I ended up with, I found the process too rigid for my natural style. After seeing Nikki’s gorgeous gestural style print (above), I was excited to give printing on glass a try. Nikki and I met at the studio for a fast test run. She got to try out her lesson plan, and I got to try the process. To my delight, vitreography was fast, non-toxic, and easy to learn! I don’t mean “easy” in the way that my first print was a masterpiece, but vitreography was far more beginner friendly for me than drypoint, woodcuts, and traditional etching. It was easier to see what I was doing, and since I was able to apply the etching paste with a soft brush, I felt more comfortable with the types of marks I was able to make. The first test plate: the dremel tool It was easy to make marks in my thick glass plate using a diamond tipped scribe, and a dremel tool. For the dremel, Nikki had me submerge the plate in water so I didn’t send glass dust into the air. I made a few random experimental marks with the dremel, just to see what stuff would like like. Wet plate from water bath, after dremel marks Inked test plate and print I ended up liking the gesture lines made by the wide dremel bit, and I decided to try combining them with areas of soft etching with the acid. The second test plate: etching The benefit of the glass was “clear.” I grabbed a photo from my flowers project, and put the plate on top of it. I applied the etching paste to all the areas I wanted to be grey. etching paste applied to some areas Applying etching paste to glass plate, with photo reference under the glass The paste was an experiment, since I didn’t know how long to let it sit before wiping it off. I waited about 10 minutes for it to work. (I shouldn’t have – as you’ll see it ended up too dark!) Since the evening was a brief one, I just did a quick scribble with a drypoint scribe to see what it would look like, and called the unfinished sketch good enough for a first test. I covered the plate with etching ink, quickly and easily wiped off the extra (way easier than drypoint and woodblock!), and placed the plate between the support runners on the press. After being so worried I wouldn’t wait long enough for the paste to etch the glass, turns out I waited too long. It only needed 2 minutes! First etching print experiment, with cheap paper The first print ended up being too dark, but I liked the stippled grey and felt confident I could make a better plate without much effort. I loved the brush strokes on the vase. First etching test print, on cheap paper The second print, or “ghost print” with the ink leftover on the plate from the first print, was lovely and subtle. You can see the quick drypoint line areas I did with the scribe. I could see going back into this with scribbly drawing materials to define the flowers and the vase, and having some fun. Etching ghost print, with tiny areas of drypoint I’m going to like Vitreography. We start Tuesday!