Patina Lift Print (Rhino-horn/Nutmeg Grater)
Bronze patina lift, ammonia, salt & acetic acid on paper.
Edition of four
Completed for the Rhino’s are Coming International Print Exhibition (2014).
A series of chemical processes were involved in the making of this variable edition of patina-lift prints. Firstly, the plate was etched up-side-down for eleven hours over two stages in ferric chloride using liquid hard ground as a stop. Once the plate was properly cleaned, it was dampened and suspended, over-night, over a bath of undiluted ammonia (this built up the blue patina). After all excess ammonia was rinsed off, the plate was sprayed with an acetic acid & salt solution before being placed in a vertical book press with appropriately dampened intaglio printing paper. This was left in place for an hour, with a re-application of the acetic acid & salt solution after the first thirty minutes (any longer than an hour and the paper would dry out too much and adhere to the plate).
Over the christmas period a substantially well-travelled family friend noted that our lemon-zester bore an uncanny resemblance to a traditional Vietnamese rhino horn-grater.
When conceptualising this project it seemed irresponsible not to produce a piece in reaction to rhino-horn poaching. I was wary, however, of creating something obvious and overtly topical. An edition of patina-lift prints of a reproduced rhino-horn grater was found to satisfy these requirements.
A direct impression of an object, patina-lift prints are ‘printed’ using only that object’s layer of protective corrosion (therefore the more prints that are made the more the grater oxidises and disintegrates). Of course the irony here is that, by forming a patina through processes of oxidation, the metal actually ends up insulating itself against further oxidation. All this speaks quite directly to the environmental concern at work in these prints.
There is also a direct, albeit superficial, connection between the historical journey of Ghanda (the rhino that featured in Dürer’s well known etching) and the patina prints in that Ghanda contracted dermatitis during her long sea-voyage from India to Portugal (as though she were, herself, being insulated in a protective layer).