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Close up of etching

Close up of etching

This week I have been working on a collaborative etching project with my dad, calligrapher Duncan Tolmie. He has recently been experimenting with pointed pen style lettering – a more modern, informal calligraphy style. Lettering has a special affinity with traditional printmaking and I thought this new contemporary calligraphy with its free flowing curves and spontaneous marks would would work beautifully as an intaglio print. During a ransack of my dad’s sketchbook I came across a Picasso quote which became the starting point for our first calligraphic etching.

Sketchbook excerpt

Sketchbook excerpt

To transfer the design accurately, I printed the calligraphic lettering onto acetate and exposed the image onto the surface of the plate coated in photo-sensitive film. In the studio we aquatinted the plate then etched the lettering to a deep tone. After printing the first proof I recoated the plate in a wax ground and my dad drew some flourishes around the text with a very fine etching needle. This pattern was lightly etched and then the plate was inked up in viridian green and aquamarine to make a subtle gradient. I left some ink on the surface of the plate, particularly around the text, so there would be a subtle vignette and some tone in the background.

Calligraphic etching

Calligraphic etching

I also made a couple of smaller plates etched with the word ‘breathe’ which we inked in various colours. More to follow on these later….

Hot Bed Press Printmakers’ Studio is celebrating its 20th birthday with an exhibition at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery.  ’20′ will feature the work of twenty artists and I am delighted to have been selected to exhibit. It will run from 14th June until 6th September.  To coincide with the exhibition, the Museum will host a five-week school of print demonstrating a range of printmaking techniques.


The Schoolhouse Gallery will soon be stocking some of my etchings (images below). The gallery is located in the beautiful little fishing village of Dornie, in the Scottish Highlands. If you are lucky enough to be in the area, it is well worth a look. There is some fantastic work by local artists on display, including paintings of the Hebridean landscape by the very talented Anthony Barbour, and lots of lovely quirky gifts. As if it couldn’t get any better, there is also a range of speciality coffee and nibbles available in the tearoom.

Over Wldflower Meadow, Bunny & Blossom, Phoenix

Over Wldflower Meadow, Bunny & Blossom, Phoenix

Delighted that I have had two etchings selected for the Waterside Open Exhibition in Sale, Manchester. View From Seilebost and Highland Bothy will both be on display and are for sale at £145 each, in handmade natural walnut frames.


The exhibition runs from Saturday 8th February to Saturday 24th May so there’s plenty of time to head along and see an amazing variety of work from artists, designers and makers in the North West and across the UK.

Had a great day at the Little Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Altrincham yesterday. A massive thanks to everyone who bought an etching – it’s great to know they have all went to good homes!

It was a wonderful opportunity to meet lots of lovely people – exhibitors and visitors – and get that warm Christmassy feeling. There was some fantastic work on show including that of my friendly neighbouring stallholders – Louise Janetta from Buxton, who had beautiful collagraphs on show and Eve Redmond – selling elegant jewellery in silver and agate. The lovely Stella Corrall from Lucentia was also at the fair exhibiting her range of gorgeous bespoke coasters made with translucent plastics.

Arrived back home after the show to wade through a sea of printmaking detritus so the next few days will be dedicated to creating some semblance of order. It’s amazing how much mess one frenzied printmaker can create…


This etching is of a beach called Sielebost in late-Autumn. The sea is unusually calm, with just a few rippling waves pushing crystal clear water into small inlets between the rocks. The sky is smudged with a few white clouds. In the foreground, the machair leans slightly in the breeze while the mountains stand strong in the background.

The initial image was drawn with a very small etching needle and the first proof was a simple line drawing. Additional detail, texture and shading were then added using aquatint, to give the image more depth and atmosphere.

Image size: 205mm x 190mm

Sold unframed.


The beaches on the Isle of Harris, in the Outer Hebrides, are some of the most stunning I have ever seen. The almost-white sands and crystal clear water could be part of a tropical paradise – only the howling winds and thunderous skies reveal the fact that you are on the outermost edge of Northern Scotland. Somehow, the inimitable Hebridean climate only serves to make the wild beaches on Harris even more romantic.

Sudden, extreme changes in weather mean rainbows are commonplace. The quality of light is constantly in flux; dramatic alterations that are hard to capture even on camera. Late in the evenings you have a chance of glimpsing aurora borealis. In April the rough machair bursts into bloom creating a colourful wildflower frame around the beaches. The views are like looking through a kaleidoscope.

Dragonfly drypoint

This drypoint of a broad-bodied chaser dragonfly was drawn on a zinc plate with a diamond-point etching tool. Unlike etching, which produces a very crisp line, the burrs created by scraping directly into the surface of the metal hold ink differently and print a softer line. This technique worked well with the dragonfly as it gives a slight sense of vibration and movement on the insect’s wings and body. This has been printed as a varied edition of 20 and is for sale on my Etsy shop.