Monday, October 3, 2011

Etching - Part 1

I am not sure if all of you are interested in the etching processes I am learning these days, but I thought I'd share a few photos since it's so different for me. The first picture shows my beautiful outfit while etching: close-toed shoes, an apron and rubber gloves. I tell you, until you get the final print, this is not pretty art making!
During the first step after I had done my assignment prints last week I wanted to apply another hard ground to my two plates (the dragonfly and the ginkgo leaf) to do a little more detail drawing on them. In order to be able to see through the hard ground, I chose the waxy kind, which gets applied on this hot plate:
I totally forgot to photograph the process, but here is the plate all covered with the original etched image still visible, just like I wanted.
I didn't need to make many more additional lines, so with my trusty scraper I was done with that in a few minutes.

In the images above and below, you can see some of those additional marks - the original ones are dark and the new ones light colored.
The next step was to put a backing on the copper sheet so that the back side doesn't etched,
take the lid off the ferric chloride solution,
and submerge my plate for about 15 minutes. For all of that I had to be gloved and goggled.
After this etching step, which was successful for both plates, I first cleaned off the hard ground and then polished them to get all the grease off (fingerprints and such). Now started the exciting and new part - aquatint!
Aquatint is a process where you apply rosin dust to the plate to create a uniformly etched area - great for background shading. So, first, with a sharpie marker I blocked out the areas I didn't want to etch with the rosin.
Then I donned this lovely breathing mask (again, not pretty art making!) and applied the rosin - and again forgot to take photos. I was too concerned with following all the steps this first time around.

Basically, I created a dust storm of fine rosin powder in an enclosed box, let the dust settle a bit, then put in my plates for a couple of minutes to have some of the fine powder settle on it. After that, you melt the rosin particles onto your plate and submerge them in the acid bath. The length of time you have them in the acid determines how gray or black the area will be upon printing.

After cleaning off the rosin and sharpie with alcohol, I was left with these beautiful plates. It totally worked and I am thrilled!! I preserved the delicate line etchings while adding some depth to the background. I hope it'll really make the images pop when I print them.
Today I'll go in to print them on newsprint just to see how the print will look and hopefully I'll remember to take photos of that process as well...

Wishing you a great start to this week! We are still enjoying cool fall weather and I am loving it!!! I had almost forgotten that I have energy when the weather isn't so hot...


  1. Liebe Silke,

    ich freue mich, dich auf deinem schönen Blog zu besuchen.

    Sonnige Grüße
    Angela und Elisabeth

  2. This certainly seems like hard work, but I guess it's a no-pain, no-gain kind of thing. I love the look of your plates in the last photo -- can't wait to see the next round of prints. Have a good Monday!

  3. What a laborious process this is!! But it yields a wonderful result! I actually got something in the mail to you on Saturday!!

  4. really interesting...I have always wanted to take an Etching course.
    Can't wait to see the print...yay for you!

  5. It involves more work than I would want too do but I'm glad there are people out there (like you) who are willing to do it-because the results are wonderful.

  6. Well that was really fascinating Silke, thanks for sharing with us - looking forward to seeing the print :))

  7. Silke!!!! this is fascinating to say the least....I am so loving you sharing this whole process with us!!! can't wait to see how the prints turn out!!!!

  8. Hi Silke,

    Thanks so much for sharing the process! It was really interesting to learn about it. :)

  9. Hi everyone! I'm so glad you found this at least a little interesting. I didn't get to print yesterday, but as soon as I continue, I'll do another post. Hugs, Silke

  10. My goodness! You are doing everything! You look great with that mask on, so serious!!!

  11. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilke!

    Oh my goodness, what a process! Lots of care and labor. And gear! But the outcome is completely worth it. I'm so very, very impressed!

  12. Sorry I'm so late posting on this.
    I really think you should crop the photo with the mask for a new profile pic! ;-)
    Fascinating work~~love seeing the plates and their process. Even with my fear of acids, if I could find an etching class locally, I would be inclined to try it.
    You are an Uber-Artist!!!