Etching, 9" x 6" © 2011, Elana Goren
I used alot of water when applying the white ground. In fact, I wet the areas on the plate where I wanted to apply the white ground and then let the ground swirl around in the water as it was drying. I had to let go of any notion of control over where the ground will be thickest and thinnest in the watery swirls but I found this to be a general feature of white ground that I like, yielding results that are surprising, unexpected. The resulting smoky, hazy atmospheric effect came from repeated applications of the white ground in the same manner in between etches.
White ground is a bit tricky, there are so many factors involved in how it will yield results you are looking for. The formula used to create it will determine if it's more pigment-heavy or more soapy which in turn determines how it responds to water and after plate application, to the acid itself. I used a recipe from the book Etching, Engraving and Other Intaglio Printmaking Techniques, by Ruth Leaf. It's a great recipe for ground that can be stored in a jar and activated easily with a wet brush each time you need to use it.
If you are interested in white ground or any other etching techniques, please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I am still experimenting with white ground and I welcome insights from others who have used this. I hope to post more about it in the future as well.