These are etchings by my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway, who died in 2000.
All four are done with the same etching plate.
Winter is done first. The zinc plate is covered with a protective layer and then she draws with tools, including dental tools. The plate is placed in an acid bath. The acid etches where the drawings are, different depths. The protective layer is removed. The plate is inked. Most of the ink is gently wiped off and the plate is placed on the press. Wet paper is laid on the plate and the heavy wool covers are folded down over that. The press is run. The wool is folded back on the other side and the paper is lifted and laid to dry.
The plate is re inked for each one.
She puts the protective cover back on the plate and adds the buds for spring. These are etched. Winter is now gone, the plate has changed. She prints all of the spring series.
Next is summer. Leaves are added. She prints those.
Last is autumn. Now there are leaves on the ground as well. She does some the plates with more than one ink color. This was one of her largest etchings. She did a small series first, where the etchings were about 4 by 6 inches. This was 18 by 24. She had a really big etching press. I don’t know who has it, my sister took it to California and it disappeared.
I have the etchings and I have all the plates. I can’t run this series, I could only run autumn. I grew up surrounded by my mother doing art, etchings, watercolors, oils, lithography, a constant sketchbook and crafts. I took a painting class a few years ago. The instructor says, “Acrylics are NOT watercolors.” I reply, “I know how to DO watercolors.” I was being quite creative with the acrylics only I automatically used the watercolor techniques that I grew up with.
The photograph doesn’t really do them justice. I will have to take some more. Plus I have her slides in some of the boxes left from when my father died. More cataloging.
Blessings and good memories of my mother.
They are beautiful.