Debby Mason has been a printmaker for over 25 years, specialising in etchings and mezzotints. Debby lives and works in wonderful surroundings near Plymouth beside Hooe Lake.
Mezzotints are produced on copper plates. The entire surface of the plate is roughed 'rocked' with a tool known as a Mezzotint Rocker, which is shaped like a wide chisel with a curved and serrated edge. By rocking the toothed edge backwards and forwards over the plate, a rough burr is cast up which holds the ink. Once this is completed, a drawing can be transferred onto the plate, using carbon paper.
When printed, the textured ground reads as a uniform dark; the areas to be lightened are scraped and burnished - therefore, working from dark to light - a reverse technique to etching and engraving. Little can compare the Mezzotint in the richness of its blacks; it is unique among the intaglio printmaking processes.
The preparation of the plate can take 25 hours or more before the artist can start work on the design, but the beautiful, soft velvety finish is so unique to the mezzotint process that it more than justifies the skill and patience involved.