I have some metalpoint questions.
1. I have a metalpoint friend who no longer uses his favorite grounds - Golden's Pastel Ground and Sandable Hard Gesso - because he is concerned with the warning labels (i.e. can cause cancer). I presume the warning is due to silica content in both grounds - is that correct? Any other reason?
2. I presume it's sufficient to wear a good dust mask to address the issue? Even with a mask my friend doesn't like creating dust because he figures it ends up somewhere. Is there any harm to these sanding dusts if wiped up with a damp rag and put in the garbage?
3. My friend also had problems with "fading" in metalpoint drawings. He understands they don't literally fade but rather the metal isn't adhering well long-term; he feels he probably over-sands his ground, doesn't leave enough tooth for the metal to be deposited within.
My question is, how does a metalpoint line actually "adhere" to the ground? Is it merely that metal deposits get "lodged" within the interstices of an irregular surface; or is there another sort of adhesion (such as electrostatic adhesion)?
4. I want enough tooth in a ground to maximize the potential for dark lines, and to create a good bond between metal and ground. On the other hand I want a smooth surface so my nib doesn't skip or leave dark flecks when drawn across areas with more texture. Any thoughts on how best to achieve these contradictory aims?
5. Another conundrum of metalpoint drawing: the more one works a surface with a metal nib, the more smoothed the surface becomes, ergo the less abrasive it is and the less metal is deposited.
One way I address the problem (i.e. the surface is smoothed by the act of drawing itself) is this: Once my drawing is more or less developed, I'll occasionally apply a very thin, transparent layer of whatever ground I'm using over the entire image. This whisper thin "scumble" of ground slightly obscures the drawing, yet it's still visible; the fresh ground reinstates "tooth" so I can go back in and deepen my darks and build up the drawing again, but richer and more multi layered.
Do you see any problem in putting a very thin layer of ground on top of a metalpoint drawing, and then continuing to work on it (and potentially repeating that process several times in a drawings?) FYI, I use different grounds - gouache, casein, acrylic polymer gesso, traditional gesso - although the same ground throughout a single drawing.
I have more metalpoint questions – but that's enough for now!