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After the last etching Harold did for competition “Tracery of a Fragile Moment” he devoted all his artistic skills to ship modeling. While doing a series of articles on the Oliver Cromwell, Harold went back to his days as an artist and illustrated a couple of pictures for the articles. He decided to do the same for the book. The six etchings to accompany the historical section of the book took three weeks of concentrated work per etching. Years before, when Harold was active in the art world, he never printed more than a few of each of his etchings. Actually he never tried to commercialize on his printmaking. A few prints were sold but these were bought by museums for their collections. Doing the etchings for the book, for the first time Harold decided to make about 35 prints of each etching and offer them for sale.

As an artists medium Harold first learned Linoleum cutting then engraving on end grain blocks of Boxwood. Following he learned the different approaches to working on polished copper plates: drypoint, engraving, line etching, soft ground etching, and other aquatint techniques. All of the methods for producing pictures represented direct application of the artists creative efforts and special skills. They also provide a means to produce multiple copies which all come directly from the artist. The etchings should not be confused with commercially printed reproductions of an artists work. The mechanically produced offset lithographs are copies of the original artists work and are often referred to as limited edition lithographs.

The process of creating and printing a line etching begins with a polished copper plate. This plate is heated and a ball of hard ground wax is touched to the hot plate to deposit enough wax on the surface so it can be rolled out into a smooth coating. Next the plate is passed over a candle flame until the warm wax is impregnated with the smoke to produce a uniformly blackened surface. The design is then traced onto the plate, bearing in mind that when the image is printed, the image will be reversed. The picture is cut on the grounded plate with a sharp point that cuts into the hard wax to expose the copper.

The contrast between the blackened wax and the bright copper color produces a well defined negative image. After drawing all the lines that will be the heaviest in the picture, the plate is submerged in a diluted solution of hydrochloric acid. The time the plate is left to etch in the acid is determined by the skill and experience of the artist. After the first etching the next pronounced lines are scribed in the wax and the plate is once again etched. This process is repeated from the heaviest lines to the finest lines. Some drawings will require as many as six acid etchings ranging from two minutes to two hours. When the final etching is done, the wax is cleaned from the copper plate and a test print is made. In most cases the cycles of etching may have to be done three of more times until the finished result is achieved.

Harold printed limited editions of two etchings that appeared in Model Shipwright, a set of six etchings used in his first book The Colonial Schooner and a set of eight etchings for the book Ships of The American Revolution. All the etchings can be seen in the books, however they are reproductions of the actual etching and lack the amazing detail of the original prints made direct from the copper plates.

When Harold was asked about the original copper plates he said they were destroyed, cut up and the copper used for different things. There will never be reprints made from the original plates so the original “limited editions made by Harold Hahn will always be limited.

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