ABOUT THE ARTIST’S ETCHINGS: DiFalco first creates a number of original drawings, which are usually based upon the narrative and documentation-centric images, which he discovers through his research into the photographic and digital archives of universities, libraries, governments, and historical societies. Herein now, the artist outlines some details about his ETCHING process to explain to you about the complexities, nuances, and time consumed in creating just one etched print.
Quote from the Artist—“I work on a metal etching plate—usually zinc—and begin by filing its sides and corners to forty-five degree angles the tool used for this is called a flat, metal bastard file. My plate is then cleaned of all dirt and grease and next, it is coated with a ground of mineral spirits and beeswax, which dries for a period of eight hours. I then “draw” into the ground with various tools, including needles, working from my original drawings or the graphic transfers of said drawings. My next step involves placing the zinc plate, which now contains lines and other exposed metal areas, into a bath of spring water and Nitric acid. This intaglio process lasts for a period of seconds to minutes, before the plate is then removed from the acid and rinsed with tap water. Turpentine and alcohol are then applied to the plate to remove the ground, thereby exposing the “etched” areas and lines. The plate is ten washed and coated again with a ground for the next working. Shaded areas can be created through the AQUATINT process, which uses pulverized resin crystals. The acid bath again reworks the plate, which is cleaned again between etchings. If I wish, an etching needle may be used to draw directly onto the ungrounded plate DRYPOINT. This process can involve many more steps and tools, depending upon what the artist desires. After several re-workings, the plate is then applied with etching ink and wiped before it is run through the printing press.”
The full title is: “Water Dragon Moon in Lilac 1948”, a part of The Chinatown Series, Print Number TWO of FOUR in Edition Five, the last, of Five. This particular etching of Race Street in Philadelphia’s Chinatown area was created with the studio techniques of aquatint, intaglio, drypoint, and Chine collé. The zinc etching plate measured ten inches high by eight inches wide, which is consequently the image size. French, oil base ink Charbonnel brand from Paris was used, as well as RivesBFK white printmaking paper. The print size measures about fifteen inches by eighteen inches high. The frame is 16 inches wide by 20 inches high.
Artist Quote: “This hand-pulled print required a total of eight individual baths in Nitric acid for me to achieve the final design. I first created two original drawings from which to work, and based these drawings on a photograph from the Free Library of Philadelphia’s digital collection. This photo was taken in 1948 by the firm of Parker Mullikin and features The South China Restaurant, 913 Race Street.
This print highlights the 5th EDITION of 5 EDITIONS, and each of the FIVE editions is limited to only four etchings. Each edition is executed in a different ink and paper color combination. Therefore only a total number of twenty etchings, in four groups of five different colors, exist. The work demonstrates DiFalco’s expert use of the manipulation of both light and shadow, as well as his skill in creating visual illusions through detailed line. The moon and restaurant sign, colored Aegean Green and purple respectively, was created via the Chine colle etching process—pronounced Shin-Kō-lay—translates from French as Chinese Pasting. This technique uses mulberry bark paper and is explained in detail later. The artwork comes complete with an archival mat and painted wood frame that measures twenty inches high by sixteen inches wide. A protective, brown paper frame backing is glued securely to the work. The price also includes the shipment carton, all shipment costs, all protective and weatherproofing packing materials, and a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the artist. The ink employed, Charbonnel brand, was manufactured in Paris, and the color was a created blend of four different colors. The white paper DiFalco used was RivesBFK brand, also made in France. This pre-torn paper is soaked in a water bath for about twenty to thirty minutes to soften its texture and remove any sizing. It is then blotted dry between two bath towels with either a rolling pin or a direct hand-pressured massage.
Di Falco used an industrial, floor model Brand printing press, manufactured in New York City. He completed this Last Edition of four etchings at The Center for Works on Paper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is associated with the Fleisher Art School’s Open Printmaking Studio for Professional Artists. DiFalco monitors the studios here and also acts as a mentor to the workshop artists.
The following outlines DiFalco’s Chine collé, or Chinese Pasting, etching technique.
Chine Collé, which translates from the French as Chinese pasting, is a process in which colored and treated paper is attached to the etching plate before the printing press is activated. Di Falco mixes Methylcellulose powder with spring water and then paints the resulting clear viscous substance onto hand-dyed, Unryu brand mulberry-bark paper from Thailand. NOTE: In Japan, Unryu translates as CLOUD DRAGON paper because it contains long swirling threads of kozo fibers integrated in it, thereby giving the texture and visual effect of clouds. Kozo fibers come the branches of the kozo bush, specifically the innermost of three layers of bark, which must be removed, cooked, and beaten before the sheets are formed. Kozo is harvested annually. The treated Thai paper is then allowed to dry overnight, and DiFalco cuts it to fit over the plate areas where he wants different colors to exist within the print. These stenciled mulberry-bark papers are first dampened or misted with water and than as the zinc plate sits on the printing press is placed upon the already inked and wiped etching plate. The printing process continues, and DiFalco creates a multi-colored and hand-printed etching.
Full Moon, Chinatown, Philadelphia, Kozo Threads, Night Scene, Mulberrybark Paper, Original Printmaking, Cityscape Printmaking