Etching is an intaglio method of printmaking in which
the image is incised into the surface of a metal plate using an acid.
Pictorial etching evolved gradually from the earlier burin engraving.
Both seem to have originated in Germany, where Dürer’s etchings
on iron, made between 1510 and 1520, were probably the earliest important
examples of an art that in the following centuries was practiced by
many of the greatest draftsmen and painters. Among the foremost in the
history of etching are the works of Dürer, Callot, Rembrandt, the
Tiepoli, the Piranesi, Goya, and Whistler.
The process of image includes several steps. First, a detailed pen and ink drawing is made from preparatory sketches. This drawing will be done exactly as the image is to appear on the plate. A special alloy copper plate is prepared for the etching process by smoothing and polishing the edges and the surface of the plate. This is done so that these surfaces print clean and so that the paper will not be damaged by the pressure of the press. The back of the plate is then coated with an acid-resistant paint. Once this is done, the plate is coated with an acid-resistant covering called the ground. This is essentially a mixture of asphaltum and beeswax that when dry produces a soft waxy surface that can be drawn into with a variety of tools. The drawing is now transferred to the "grounded" plate in reverse. An etching needle or other tools are used to scratch away the ground to expose the bare copper surface underneath. This produces lines or tones in the plate. The drawing or image is built up from these lines. A proof or trial print is pulled from the plate to determine the accuracy of the drawing and to act as a guide to the re-working of the plate. The plate is re-ground, scratched, and etched until the image on the plate is complete. These are called states and most etchings pass through many states before completion. Proofs are pulled at each state as a guide to the artist. When these progressive proofs indicate to the artist that the plate work is complete, printing can proceed.
To begin the printing process, the plate is first heated on a hotplate. Next an ink, hand ground from pigment and linseed oil, is applied to the warm plate (approximately 120F-130F) with a brayer. Once linked, the plate is transferred to a wiping table where the top surface of ink is removed from the plate with a non-absorbent fabric called tarlatan. The only ink remaining on the plate is in the etched lines. The plate is then placed on the press bed and covered with damp etching paper. The paper is covered with wool blankets and then run through the press rollers under great pressure. This pressure causes the ink to be transferred from the grooves or lines in the plate to the damp paper surface. The paper is lifted off of the plate and the print or etching is placed in a drying rack to dry for a minimum of 48 hours.
The entire process of heating, inking, wiping, and pressing
must be repeated for each print, since the inked plate is good for only
one impression. Once the etchings are thoroughly dry they are water-colored
by hand. This is a delicate and time-consuming process, and can sometimes
take several hours to color one print. The finished etchings are scrutinized
for quality and lesser quality prints are rejected. The artist then
hand signs and numbers the edition in pencil. The final part of this
process is the conservation framing of these etchings. This provides
a neutral Ph, dust, and humidity free environment for the print. Etchings
framed in this manner have survived hundreds of years in perfect condition.
Language of Etching...
A small hand roller used to spread ink thinly and evenly.
The authorized number of impressions made from a single image, including all numbered prints and proofs. A limited edition has a specified number noted on the impression.
An intaglio process in which an image is scratched through an acid-resistant coating on a metal plate. The plate is then dipped in acid which eats into the exposed surface.
A rounded steel point used to cut through the ground on an etching plate.
May sometimes be printed to record the development of a piece.
An impression printed prior to the printing of the bon à tirer impression. Trial proofs may differ from the numbered edition if they are printed prior to minor corrections in the stone or plate. They may simply be weak impressions printed en route to the bon à tirer , or they may be trial impressions on a paper different from that ultimately chosen by the artist for the printing of the edition. Only impressions printed in black or in colors identical to those used in the edition are designated as trial proofs.
|Signed and Numbered
||Authenticated with the artist's signature, the total number of impressions in the edition, and the order in which the impression is signed; "5/20" indicates that the print is the fifth signed of an edition of 20 impressions.
This method of layering color on an aluminum brushed substrate creates a distinctly vibrant luminosity not attainable in other mediums.