Etching

Etching, one of the oldest printing processes, is a form of intaglio printmaking. Intaglio (printing below the surface) images are printed from lines in a metal plate which hold the ink when the surface is wiped clean. Under high pressure in a mangle-type press, dampened paper is pushed into the lines and pulls out the ink.Working on a metal plate covered with an acid-resistant varnish or waxy ground, the design is drawn with a point to expose the metal. The plate is dipped in an acid which bites into the exposed areas; the longer the plate is left in the acid the deeper the lines become. When the ground is removed, after inking up and wiping clean the surface, the etched lines hold the ink from which the print is taken, producing a mirror image of the original design. A 'hard ground' is used for fine line work and a 'soft ground' is used for achieving softer pencil-drawn effects or interesting textures from objects or materials pressed into the surface, leaving an impression which can be etched and printed. An exciting range of effects can be achieved with just these techniques in one day even for the beginner and it is not necessary to be a great artist to produce a very satisfying print.

Additional techniques can be explored such as:

With experience, exciting effects can be achieved by combining different methods. Several different kinds of metal can be used for the plates but most commonly it is zinc, which is easier to work than steel and cheaper than copper. The inks are usually oil based. There are also several types of water-based ink which I personally do not recommend but I do suggest using detergent-washable inks, which have the same characteristics as oil-based inks but clean up easily. As a less toxic alternative to etching with acid (which needs a fume cabinet), exciting tones and effects can be achieved by etching on zinc or aluminium with a salt etch or ferric chloride. As printing presses and acid baths and suchlike are required, attending a course at a printmaking studio is recommended for the beginner.





Etching Basics Course


An introduction to traditional etching, using beeswax grounds, (hard & soft). You will also learn how to ink your plate á la poupée (inking one plate up with many colours simultaneously).

The aim of this course is to learn the basic techniques of intaglio printmaking, meaning to print from incised lines etched into metal with acid (etching). The plate is covered in an acid-resist wax ground, then using an etching needle the image is engraved into the ground revealing the metal underneath. The plate is then submerged into a bath of acid, and the acid bites into the surface of the plate where the metal has been exposed. Biting is a printmaking term to describe the acid’s etching, or incising, of the image. The length of time and strength of the acid is determined by the type of metal used (zinc, copper or steel) the ground applied, or the depth of line required. When the plate is sufficiently bitten, the plate is removed from the acid bath and the ground is removed revealing the etched lines and un-etched areas (whites) that were protected by the ground.


Materials you will be using for this course:

Zinc plate

Hard ground (wax resist) for a line drawing.

Soft ground (wax resist) for a soft line and also for texture.

Nitric acid (for etching line).

Oil based inks (for printing).

Scrim (medium fine cloth for wiping ink).

Newsprint (for printing).

Tissue (for printing).

Fine art papers (for your final print).


Fundamental etching methods covered

Plate preparation

Applying grounds

Paper preparation

inking & a la poupée. Wiping

Burnishing & plate correction

Top rolling



You will need protective clothing but gloves and other Provided.

Bring sketchbooks, pencils, inspiration.





Collagraph


An introduction to collagraph. Create bold expressive prints using card.

The aim of this course is to learn the basic techniques of collagraph (from the French word colle meaning to stick or glue). The surface used for printing on this course will be card cutting into the surface creating shapes or dry point lines, adding collage and carborundum or sandpaper for texture and density of colour, sealing with shellac or varnish to create a printable surface and strengthen the card.

 


Materials you will be using on this course will be;

Card

Scalpel (for cutting)

Collage materials

Carborundum (for texture)

Sandpaper (for texture)

Glue

Shellac varnish

Oil-based inks

Toothbrush (for inking)

Scrim (medium fine cloth for wiping ink)

Fine art paper (for your final print)


Fundamental Collagraph Methods covered;

preparation of card /plate

Collage and carborundum technics

Wiping and ink technics

Preparation of paper and printing


You will need protective clothing but gloves and other protection provided.

Bring sketchbooks, inspiration, pencils any tools relevant to the course.




Dry-point


Drypoint is a printing technique drawing directly onto the plate using a carbon steel point (dry point needle) forming soft subtle lines, deep dark velvety lines (burrs) or energetic, aggressive lines making dry-point a characterful and expressive drawing medium.

The aim of this course is to learn the basic technique of dry-point. As with etching, this technique also comes under intaglio printmaking, meaning to print from incised lines - the difference being the lines are not etched with acid, and no wax grounds are used, the metal plate is worked on directly using a carbon steel point (dry-point needle). The depth of the line determines the amount of ink it will hold; a very soft line will print with some subtlety, but a very deep line pressing very hard will give you a rich dark velvety line with a burr. Rubbing black ink into the lines as you are working out your drawing will help you to see what depth of lines you need before the plate is ready to do the first proof. About 3 proofs is usually enough to get the plate right to do an edition.


Materials you will be using on this course;

Zinc plate

Plastic (Perspex)

Carbon Steel point (Dry-point needle)

Sandpaper (for texture)

Oil based inks (for printing)

Scrim (medium fine cloth for wiping ink)

Newsprint (for printing)

Tissue (for printing)

Fine art papers (for final print)


Fundamental Dry-point Methods covered;

Preparation of plastic or zinc plate

Create lines using the burrs and wiping technics

Preparation of paper and printing


You will need protective clothing but gloves and other protection provided.  

Bring sketchbooks, inspiration, pencils any tools relevant to the course.






Salt & Copper Sulphate Etching on Aluminium


Etching using salt and copper sulphate, a safer mordant that has proven very successful for etching onto aluminium and zinc, giving both line and tonal values without the use of aquatint. This is the only method for etching aluminium that really works.The aim of this course is to learn the basic technique of etching with salt etch. The aluminium plate is prepared by smoothing the edges of the plate by filing or using course  and smooth sand papers. Degreasing the plate to help the integrity of the ground, protecting parts of the plate not to be etched. The same wax grounds can be used as for conventional etching: an ink-based ground can also be used but takes a while to dry. Once the plate has been coated with the required ground, an image is drawn into the ground using an etching needle. The back of the plate should then be covered with an acid resist tape and submerged into the copper sulphate and salt bath. This will instantly start to etch and lift the surface of the aluminium. A copper residue will appear on the surface of the bath in the  form of the drawing, indicating that the mordant is working.


Materials used on this course;

Aluminium plate

Hard ground (wax resist) for a line drawing

Soft ground (wax resist)

     for a soft pencil drawn line and texture

Ink ground (resist) for line drawn line and effects

Copper Sulphate and salt (for etching)

Varnish (for use of tonal values)

Oil based inks (for printing)

Scrim (medium fine cloth for wiping ink)

Newsprint (for printing)

Tissue (for printing)

Fine art papers (for your final print)


Fundamental salt etch methods covered;

Plate Preparation  and  mixing  salt etch

Application of grounds

Etching

Paper preparation

Plate inking/a la poupée wiping

Burnishing and plate corrections

Press for course

Contact James Hill,Fiona Thomas for Email press here     

St Barnabas Press Coldhams Road Cambridge CB13EW Telephone +44(0)1223 413792 Mobile +44(0)7703442646        

Back to top

Press for course Press for course