So in honor of “Catrina in Love,” my first wall piece in quite a while (it feels great to work so big!), I wanted to share some of the steps.

First, there is the sketching.  Lots and lots of sketching.

The cats love this part, because it means we can hang out!

I’m a real stickler for getting a drawing just right.  My initial sketch is in pencil, and is mostly just a sense of movement and mass. I like to flesh out the details in pen so I tend to do a sketch in pencil, then trace it in pen, then mark it up and trace it again.

Once the drawing is perfect, I scan it into the computer.  In order to do the etch, the drawing needs to be black and white, no grey, but the scan looks best if it’s done in grayscale.  So there’s some computer manipulation.

Then the work is printed on a special paper that allows me to put it on metal.  I use an old laminating press … because I have one.

Last minute repairs to the resist.

Unfortunately, with a large work the image doesn’t always transfer perfectly, so I have to spend a few hours filling in all of the areas where the image didn’t stick.  If I made a mistake with my drawing, I can scrape some of the picture off with an exacto.

The etching takes a few hours.  The floral frame is in silicon bronze, and this is the first time I’ve worked with it. It etched beautifully.

I don’t have any pictures of the enamel process or the patination of the frame.  The enamel goes on in layers.  When it reaches the height of the metal it’s ground off.  In this particular piece I wanted a worn, aged look so the enamel is uneven and even burned through in spots.

The finished piece!

The frame was patinaed with a number of chemicals.  I put it on and took some off and put more on, so that the recessed areas would be a different color than the high areas.  I did not expect that one side would be dark in the recesses and the other side light, but I think it looks fantastic!

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