My etchings are prints made from a thin, polished copper plate in which marks or grooves are created by chemical erosion of the metal. These grooves hold ink, which is transferred to paper in the printing process.
On the copper, which I carefully bevel, polish, and clean, an acid-resistant coating (the ground) is applied. Using a rounded needle-like stylus, I draw through the ground, exposing, while not scratching, the shiny surface. Typically, I work on the plate as I look at the scene before me.
When the plate is submerged in a chemical bath (in my process, non-toxic ferric chloride), every mark that I made interacts with the solution, while parts covered by the ground are not affected.
The chemical reaction* causes each exposed line on the copper to become eroded (etched) into a groove.
Ink is applied to the plate, and wiped off the surface, leaving ink in the grooves.
On the press, a dampened piece of fine, cotton-based paper is placed on top of the inked plate, and, with protective blankets of wool felt on top, is squeezed (pulled) under high pressure between heavy steel rollers.
The pressure forces the paper into the grooves, transferring ink to paper.
Because each print must be inked, wiped, and printed by hand, no two are exactly the same, so each is designated an original print (as opposed to, say, a digital reproduction). The tactile, raised surface of the ink and the embossment of the paper are characteristics of an original print.
back to Etchings page