The etching process
Much of the work shown on this site is intaglio etching. The etching process begins with a metal plate, usually copper or zinc. Materials resistant to acid are applied to the plate, using a variety of methods that allow different effects and surface marks. The plate is bathed in acid (ferric chloride or nitric acid) that eats away at the metal wherever there is no acid-resistant material to protect it. An etching may be a simple line drawing or a complex image with different methods used to create a variety of marks and tones on the plate.
To print the plate, the artist first prepares the printing paper by soaking it in water. The plate is inked and then most of the ink is wiped away, with ink remaining in the etched portions of the image. Once the soaked paper becomes supple, the plate is placed on a press and the paper is blotted and placed over the plate. Press blankets are placed on top of the paper and the assemblage is then run through the press. Multiple colors and layered images may be achieved by sending the print through the press multiple times.
Because the image is not simply on the surface of the paper but is pressed into the paper under tremendous pressure, the final etching will show the marks of the plate edges and the images may have texture in addition to color depending on how deeply the plate has been etched.
© 2021 by Diane C. Davis