‘Making Tracks’, a persistent little echidna

Published by Fenja on

I occasionally volunteer in a nature sanctuary near my home, Mulligans Flat. During a recent excursion there, I came across a little male echidna along the reserve’s predator-proof fence. He was trying to get to a female echidna. Sadly, she was on the other side of the fence, so the romance was ill-fated. No echidna has yet breached that fence (although I’ve heard a story of one determined echidna digging about halfway underneath).

Usually, an echidna disturbed will dig into the ground and curl up so that only the spikes are visible. But this little fellow showed such persistence and wouldn’t be discouraged from the fence line, even with a camera phone held in his face. He was simply destined to star in his own print.

Finishing the print has taken a few months. The first step was to cut the lino plate of the echidna. Finding the perfect backdrop took a bit of experimenting. I finally settled on two overlapping solar plate etchings of one of my favourite plants, the happy wanderer (Hardenbergia). The first etching (in faint gold) was made simply by placing actual leaves on the plate to be exposed to UV. This process results in solid spaces where the leaves are placed.

But I also wanted a background with a bit of fine texture/structure. So, the second etching (in faint green) was a bit of a new method for me. I created a monotype of happy wanderer leaves with ink and a roller. But instead of printing onto paper, I printed the monotype onto transparency paper. I could then create the solar plate by exposing it to sunlight with the transparency on top! That way, all the fine detail of the leaves became part of the solar plate etching. So simple, I just needed to think about how to create the look I was after!

This print, which I’ve named “Making Tracks”, is a small edition of 15. In each print, I used watercolour to splash a bit of colour on the echidna’s face and paws, which really ‘lifts’ him off the page. Have a look at my new favourite little echidna in my gallery.

Categories: New artwork


Britt Gow · 2 March 2021 at 7:55 am

Hi Fenja,
Thanks for sharing your solar etching technique here – a really effective background! I love the detail in your echidna so special to be able to get such a close-up of its face!

    Fenja · 2 March 2021 at 8:45 am

    Thanks so much Britt! Yep, I was very lucky to get such a perfect shot of the little guy’s determined expression.

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