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The Story of This Print: “Chichirriqui”

Maureen's best-loved dog, Chichirriqui

Our best-loved dog was a magical toy-terrier bitch, one of the first after our changeover from big breeds (great danes, and Spanish mastiffs) to little ones (pekes, yorkie crosses, shih tsu halfbreeds). I never fully forgave Mike for naming her Chichirriqui. He thought it was a playful name. I thought it was disrespectful for such a serious little person as Chichi, who could sit on a chair with her chin on the table and keep everybody enchanted just by cocking her head, rolling her eyes and flicking her ears first in one direction, then another. She was a delightful little one-dog circus with a wide repertory of such techniques for keeping people’s attention properly centered on her: bundy jumps, pa’ ca pa’ yas, spin arounds and shivers.

One day I was standing at the workbench in Mike’s studio listening to my friend Carla relate the telephone drama of her gall bladder. Chichi was sitting attentively on the little sofa opposite. There was a biro lying there, and as Carla launched into her second list of things she could no longer eat, I picked it up and took a sheet of clean paper out of the printer. While Carla explained to me the glories of keyhole surgery I started making squiggles and cross hatches with the pen, the sort of thing one does when trapped on the phone. When the phone conversation was over I dropped my little doodle into a folder and forgot about it.

I had just begun to experiment with solar plates at that time, Mike found the doodle on his workbench and came to me with it in his hand. “This is delightful,” he said. “What is it?”

It’s a sketch I made the other day,” I said. “Leave it here, maybe I’ll use it for a solar-plate print.”

This was a simple print to do.  I took the original drawing and had a
photocopy made onto  transparent laser acetate, doubling  it’s
size to 13×17.5 cm.   I made a positive intaglio plate using a Dan Welden solar
plate and his aquatint screen.  The color is a mixture of magenta, primrose
yellow and a touch of black.  It’s printed on Arpa handmade paper.

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