A Tour of the Etching Process

I begin from a sketch in my drawing tablet of the shoreline of Avalanche Lake.  Giant boulders balance and look as if their ready to crash into the water, spruce trees jut up wherever they find a foothold amongst the rocks.  The cliffs of Mt. Colden loom out of the lake on the opposite shore.

The edges of a zinc plate are filed so that when the plate is printed the pressure of the press won't rip into a sharp edge and rip the paper.

I have made a quick line drawing of the scene in reverse and now scratch the image into the zinc plate to use as guidelines

Sometimes just a quick glance tells me that "there is an etching", or even a sentence or phrase will give me an idea for an image.

The etching plate is coated with 'hard ground', asphaltum and wax.  It is acid resistant but allows me to draw through it's surface to the metal below.  The exposed metal is put into a nitric acid bath, which etches into the plate, wherever I've drawn.  The darkest areas are drawn first and therefore exposed to the acid the longest and are the deepest cuts, holding the most ink.  Then I pull my first proof. 

I spread ink over the plate and progressively wipe the plate clean, beginning my wipe with a dirty cheesecloth and ending the final wipe with a smooth piece of newsprint.
The plate is put onto the bed of the printing press and a sheet of damp paper (because it will be soft and able to be pressed into the etched grooves) is placed over it and run through the pressure of the etching press.

Continue  With  The  Etching  Tour

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