The following images are of prints made over the course of developing a plate. I experimented with a variety of markings in an attempt to make a tonally rich print.
While I am not entirely happy with the final state of this plate, I did learn a few lessons that I can apply to future plates. It may not be obvious in these online reproductions but I mistakenly over-etched sections where I wanted to attain my lowest dark (around zone 2 for you Zone System photographers). This resulted in a rather ‘hollow’ grey. Although I imagine this could be used to represent reflected light in shadows, it was not what I was after.
For those of you who are not familiar with etching, it is one of 5 itaglio printmaking processes (dry-point, engraving, aquatint and mezzotint being the others). Intaglio is a form of printmaking that uses a recess, an indentation in a surface, to hold ink. When the plate is run through a press, the ink in the recesses comes out onto paper. Etching actually refers to the use of acid to ‘bite’ into the plate.
The plate has to first be prepared before etching. In my case I used a copper plate. First I beveled the edges of the plate with a file so that it does not cut into the paper. Next the plate has to be polished and thoroughly cleaned with alcohol. Now, it is ready to be covered with a ‘ground’, a wax behaving as a barrier between the plate and the acid. When this barrier hardens, markings can be made (often with an etching tool) to reveal the copper below. Wherever the copper is revealed, the acid will etch into the plate and create a recess.
Here are my experiments. Printmaking is indeed limitless, which for me is both daunting and exciting. Further experiments can be made with etching times, types of marks, tools, papers and so much more. I would say that the most important lesson that I learned is that I simply have to keep working.