(less painful than pulling teeth)

so this was my second plate from last term:

the first plate was the same size but portrait, not landscape, with a very simple image of boats (I decided to keep the images really simple, as I was focussing on learning the technique); this term I have decided to work on a number of much smaller plates which I shall print all at once (rather than printing the same plate a number of times). . .

I can't remember how clearly I explained etching - so, a brief review. . .

you start with a zinc plate which is cleaned to remove grease; then you cover the surface of the plate with a "resist" (in this case wax) which protect the surface of the plate from the acid. . .

why do we need acid? well, the acid bites the lines/areas of our design/image/drawing into the plate and it is these indentations which will hold the ink when we come to print (so you only want it to "bite" where you choose to have a line, thus you need to protect the remainder of the surface of the metal plate)

but I'm getting ahead of myself

your plate has been cleaned and is now covered in a wax resist - you scratch the lines of your design/image into the wax - so exposing the metal of the plate. . . (there are different techinques for markings other than lines, but I'll talk about those another time) (I used an old bookbinding needle to draw the image, gently scratching thru the wax)
you can see the brown colour on the metal, in the image below, that's the wax resist (in this case "hard ground", which is the resists used for creating simple lines) (you pop the plate on a hot plate for a few minutes and then melt the hard ground wax onto the plate and then roll it evenly out)
my series of images in this case is the tideline on the river - at the top left of the plates you can see some stones on the shore, in the middle at the top are a few boats bobbing about as the tide comes in, and the lines moving from right to left across the plates show the tide coming in and filling up the pools created by undulations in the sand banks. . . in the the plate on the far left, the tide is out and the shore exposed and in the plate on the far right the water is at its highest

I have started (visually speaking) with only a few very simple lines, I will develop the image later; but at this point I only want to etch those lines onto the plate and then take a quick print to see how the lines work (visually speaking). . . so, the plates go into the acid for about twenty minutes:

you can tell if the line has been etched into the plate by gently scratching across the line - if it's deep enough, your fingernail catches (take it out of the acid first and rinse it off - don't put you hand in the acid to do this!)

when the acid has "bitten" into the plate sufficiently take the plate out of the acid and clean off the hard ground with white spirit (different waxes/resists are cleaned with different things) (things, oh how techincal of me!)

the following photo shows the plates: simple lines etched thru a hard ground resist, one session of twenty minutes in the acid, cleaned off and ready for the next stage

(not a great photo, as a really annoying woman was standing in the light, staring at me. . . *deep breath*); the following photo is a closer view of just one plate - boats at the top in the middle, slabs of stones in the top lefthand side corner (the stretch of the river near where I live has many stone slabs on it shore), edge of the shoreline on the right and a couple of tidalpools of water in the shingle in the middle. . .

very, very simple at this stage

this week I'll be taking a test print of the plates. . . and of course, when they are printed the image comes out the other way (what is left becomes right, and what is right becomes left) (so I reversed the image before I drew it out, as - in real life - from my vantage point, where I sketched the river, the shoreline was on the right. . . for some reason the balance of the image only works that way around for me and I remembered to reverse the image for printing so it comes out the "correct" way)


Dave said...

Hmm. I'll stick to painting (my art gallery post is tomorrow).

I, Like The View said...

and thereby lies one of the many differences between us

you can paint!

look forward to seeing more from your gallery

Rimshot said...

YAY! Etching photos!

The trees one is absolutely lovely.

I, Like The View said...

I inked up a second plate for that one - totally plain, as in no etched lines/shadows/image, but I made a kind of pattern with the way I inked the plate - I wanted blocks of colour (in this case yellow). . . so I printed that plate first and then printed the trees image over the top in a blue ink thus the sky is yellow and the trees green. . .

I did some others where the background colour was red and the tree plate was blue or green ink - so I have some images where the trees appear purple (with a red sky) and some where they appear brown (with a red sky)

I, Like The View said...

(that's one of the reasons that etching appeals - once you've etched your plate satisfactorily you can print your image as many times as you like in different ways)

(if I could paint as well as Dave, I think I'd be happy with producing one excellent image)

(but I can't)

(so I find small pleasures from printing multiple images in different ways)

katherine. said...

that is actually amazing. I totally love the combination of science and art.

thank you for posting.

I wonder if there is anyplace here that teaches this?

I, Like The View said...

I bet that any school or adult education teaching establishment of art or design or printing will offer courses on etching

it's fascinating (and the above is only the very tip of the iceberg of techniques!)

Rimshot said...

You've inspired me yet again! I think I'm going to sign up for this:

(sorry, still don't know how to make a link thingie)

I, Like The View said...

link thingy

instructions in italic, use pointy brackets where I've used square brackets


[a href=

1. leaving no space add in the www/http address of your link

2. to finish that, leaving no space, type a closing bracket (yours will be pointy)


3. put in the words/phrase you want to introduce the link

4. now finish off with

for example if I wanted to link to your blog using the words chez shot I'd do it like this, but with pointy brackets

[a href=]chez shot[/a]

and it comes out like this chez shot


I, Like The View said...


oh!! more importantly, cool about the guitar school

what is a luthier. . . a guitar maker?


Rimshot said...

I believe it is a maker of stringed instruments. (probably from the same root word that gives us Lute)

Sorrow said...

Not only does this look like fun, but the first print is lovely
, and now you have a valid " come up and see my etchings?"
Potential for laughter all over the place
much needed

Anonymous said...

If I was inclined to bimbo-speak, I'd probably say "Yay! you go, girl! You totally rock!"
But I don't speak like that so I'll say: nice job. I'm sending someone else your link to this.
(And, yes to Shot's luthier)

Mel said...


WELL worth the wait, I might say.

I love the trees. And I'm way curious how the progression of the tide etches turned out.
But you know me--if some etchings are good--more are better!

HOLY moly....
And I checked our local continuing education/crafty teaching thingies and etching did NOT make the list.
Course, that's for wee town Iowa. I'd say Katherine stands a chance in her neck of the woods.

<-- will etch vicariously through yours


Cuz they are wayyyyyyyy cool!
(just in case no one mentioned that.....they are!)

katherine. said...

would this be it?
ART 32
Printmaking: Etching and Intaglio
3 units; 2 hours Lecture, 4 hours Laboratory
Repeatability: May be taken a total of 2 times.
Prerequisite: ART 2A.
Recommended Preparation: Eligibility for ENGL 100 and READ 100.
Teaches intaglio: the process of making multiple images of original
designs or drawings on paper from etched metal plates

I, Like The View said...

looks pretty much right Katherine. . . not sure what the prerequisite is (you don't need any qualifications in art to etch, believe me); you might not find that six hours is enough - I go once a week for three hours and that is not enough

Mel the progression set will be printed in various ways - as a set of seven across one sheet of paper. . . perhaps on pages that I could bind into a very simple book (kind of like a flick book, but not really)

tell you swap, we'll trade etching with pavement chalking in the spring with sun tea


dinahmow like everything at the end of the day, if you've mastered the technique, everything depends on the quality of the image

not that I've fully mastered the techniques yet

thanks for the encouragement. . .

sorrow yes. . . who'd have thought it eh

and I'm glad you're laughing


mig said...

Almost, when you describe it I can understand :) When I did etching at art College it was a total failure. Well, there was an etching but it was rubbish. I couldn't remember for the life of me whether I was adding bits to the design or subtracting them.

The trees are beautiful. Simplicity is also good but complexity is the right and proper next step for someone who can clearly handle the medium with authority. Already.

I, Like The View said...

it's so weird, because what you add to the details on the plate in some ways is how you're adding to the intensity of the way the final print will be inked. . . and yet in other ways you're removing parts of the plate. . . which is where the ink will sit. . . and yet you can leave ink on un-etched areas of the plate and that will still be printed. . . or you can remove every trace of ink, apart from that which is within the etched parts of the plate. . .

endless possibilities


a bit like taking many many photos of the same view/subject - only with different lenses or different focus or with different light?