How to make an etching?

How to make an etching?

What Is An Etching?

An etching is a complicated art form, whereby an image is created on a metal plate and then transferred onto paper using chemical action. It’s a print making technique which was perfected in Germany, during the 16th Century.

Early etchings were produced on iron, but this method was replaced in 1520 by copper, but using Zinc has gained popularity again in the last 10 years.

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How To Produce an Etching:

Here at Arnett Vintage Co we have a huge assortment of Vintage artwork which has been produced using the etching method. Vintage Etching Artwork can often carry a heavier price tag than oil paintings due to the complex method of the production process. But because it’s such a complex method we thought we’d give you a step by step guide on how etching prints are produced.

Step 1 – Drawing:

A drawing is produced or an image is selected from a photograph, then a tracing is taken of the image using a hard pencil.

Step 2 – Cleaning the Surface:

Select a sheet of either copper of zinc metal and clean the surface plate thoroughly with ammonia, then dry on a hotplate.

Step 3 – Rolling the Wax:

Using a clamp to secure the plate, use a roller and roll wax onto the warm plate in an even layer. The wax is then smoked in the flame and when left to cool it sets hard and black.

Step 5 – Transferring the Image:

The earlier image drawn on the tracing paper can then be transferred onto the plate which leaves a faint impression. The drawing is then produced with a etching needle, which lifts the wax to expose the plate without actually digging into it.

Step 6 – The Bite:

The plate is then dipped in diluted nitric acid for four minutes for a gentle bite (depth of the line), and ten miners for a deeper bite. Each section of the image is tested with a etching needle to judge the depth of the bite. Areas which have be sufficiently bitten are then left to dry then painted over using a varnish.

Step 7 – The Ink:

Keeping the plate clamped, Etching Ink is tamped onto the plate, leaving the ink lines written by the nitric acid. The plate is then polished gently with paper.

Step 8 – Etching Press:

The inked plate is placed on the bed of the etching press with a damp paper layer over it, then it’s covered with a sheet of paper and blankets are stretched over. The plate, paper and blankets are then wound through the press rollers under pressure, this makes the ink squeeze out of the etched lines and onto the damp paper. The image is then carefully lifted off the plate, with clean hands or gloves, then placed onto a flat surface where its affixed and left to dry.

So there you have it, that was a summary of the complete etching process. Knowing the process and the effort that goes into producing an etching makes the etching artwork a little bit more special. If you have any hints, tips or ideas you would like to share on etching then please feel free to leave a comment in the comments section.

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