I spent most of the day in the studio today working on a new engraving. It is just a little thing (4.25 high x 2.625 wide) but on the whole a satisfying experience. Maybe I just like pain, but I enjoy engraving. For those of you who are not printmakers, engraving is done with a tool called a burin. It has a diamond shaped cross section and it is sharpened to a wicked little point.
You hold the tool with the shaft nearly parallel with the plate and then raise the handle slightly while pushing forward, carving into the plate and leaving a “V” shaped groove. And then you do it over and over and over. There have to be thousands of lines created like this in the print I did today. Seeing what you are doing can be a challenge as the lines are often very close together. Today I was working on an acrylic (Plexiglas) plate which is somewhat easier than the more traditional copper. As you go you push up a little curl of material which then has to be cut off with a sharp scraper.
All that said, I find it relaxing. You sort of get in the zone. I have music playing and your focus is on controlling that particular mark and then how and where to put the next one. Time passes and you wonder where the day went. And the lines are just beautiful.