Carborundum mezzotint with etching
plate: 5-7/16 x 7 1/16 in. (13.8 x 17.8 cm), sheet: 6-15/16 x 8-11/16 in. (17.6 x 22.2 cm)
Dox Thrash studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, before and after the First World War, in which he was wounded on the final day of hostilities. In 1925 he settled in Philadelphia, where he studied printmaking with Earl Horter, and, during the Depression, worked at the WPA/Federal Art Project’s Fine Print Workshop, located on Spruce Street. There, with the assistance of workshop colleagues Hugh Mesibov and Michael Gallagher, he invented the Carborundum mezzotint. Instead of the tedious process of employing rockers and roulettes to prepare the ground, Thrash began using silicon carbide crystals—a synthetic abrasive better known by its trade name, Carborundum—which allowed him, by simply forcing the crystals into the plate with a hand-held laundry iron, to produce a ground suitable for mezzotint in just minutes. The time saving was huge, but it came at a cost. The resulting blacks are often not as rich as those found in traditional mezzotints.
Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University
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