Intaglio Printmaking-Etching

How to Create an Etching

What is Etching?

Etching is an intaglio printmaking technique. What makes etching unique from other intaglio techniques is the acid that is involved in the process. Acid is used to bite the grooves into the plate which accepts the ink. Etching provides the opportunity for exact lines and intricately detailed drawings. Because of the acid, however, etching is a process that may not be practical for classroom applications. Small classes with responsible students may be able to handle this with special supervision during the acid process. Materials used in the etching process are remarkably inexpensive and the process is well- fun. If you’ve never given etching a try, I suggest that you give it a shot. Just be sure to wear eye protection and gloves. To see the full the lesson and the video of the process, click here-> Etching-Intaglio Printmaking Process

How to Create an Etching

Here’s the steps to creating an etching…

1. Prepare your plate- Get a zinc etching plate and clean it first. You can use alcohol for this.
2. Apply the Ground- Use a brush to apply the ground to the plate, or you can dip the plate into the ground solution.
3. Draw on the Etching Plate- Use a sharp tool to draw into the ground material. Every line that you make into the ground will be etched into the plate during the biting process. If you make a mistake, simply paint a little ground back on, let it dry, and redraw.
4. Bite the Plate- Drop the plate into an acid bath. Be sure to use acid suitable for the etching process. Keep an eye on the plate and brush away the bubbles. Use a brush or a feather for this. Also be sure to wear eye protection. (Acid in the eyes is a bad thing.) Also wear gloves. (Acid on the hands is not as bad as the eyes but still bad.) Depending on the thickness of the ground, this process make take a few minutes to about fifteen minutes. Remove the plate from the acid.
5. Clean the Plate- Use acetone to remove the ground and excess acid.
6. Wet the Paper- Use a spray bottle paper to gently wet the paper that you will be printing on.
7. Ink the Plate- Use a card to apply Oil Based ink to the surface of the plate. Be sure to work the ink into the groves of the plate. Then use newspaper or cheesecloth to wipe away ink from the plate.
8. Print the Etching Print- lay the plate down face up in the press. Lay the moistened paper on top of the plate and run the print. Grab the corner of the paper when it has made it through the press, and gently pull it back to reveal your etching print.
9. Hang your Print to Dry.

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