Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Etching process

I think that this is probably going to be the best way I can explain the etching process... All photos (with the exception of the final photo) are copyright to Tai Kedzierski

Above is a picture of a zinc plate and steel plate. Both metals have a different surface to them and the ink behaves differently on them. Steel has a slightly rougher surface, which means that the ink sticks to the plate more and you get a light tone to the print.

The plates get filed down on all sides and corners first - this is to stop the sharp edges tearing the paper and press blankets as it goes through the press.

Next the plates need to be degreased...

...and then placed on the hot plate to dry off. Then either hard ground (or soft ground) is applied to the plates and then rolled on to make an even surface.


Next comes the most time-consuming part, which is drawing on to the plate with a needle...

After the drawing is complete, the plate is taken in to the acid room for etching...

...and immersed in a diluted acid bath for several minutes.

The acid will etch into the plate only where the needle has scraped away the surface of the hard ground. (The hard ground does not come off in the acid bath)

Below: the hard ground is removed with white spirit:

The plate is then inked up with intaglio ink...

...and then the excess ink is removed with scrim (rough fabric)...

...then remaining ink is removed with tissue paper...

...finally the plate is laid out on the bed of the press. Damp paper is placed over the plate, more tissue paper is placed over it to stop any excess water or ink leaking out, the blankets are pulled over and the plate gets pulled through the press.

Below: a print and a ghost print (right)

After drying out the print, it gets folded and cut up. This idea is part of a bigger project that's still in progress... more pictures to follow later.


  1. A wonderful post Joanna.

    Great to see the step by step process. Thanks for the time it must have taken to put it all together. I've included your work in a blogpost that I'll hopefully make live later this week on my blog from seeing your work in the Manchester artist's Book Fair last weekend.

    http//:www.fishinkblog.wordpress.com keep your eyes peeled lol

    All the best Craig

  2. Hi Craig, thanks for your kind comment! And thank you for including me in your post on the Manchester Artists Book Fair too. Sadly I couldn't make it, but it's great to read about it and see photos from it on your blog. Unfortunately I cannot access your blog from your link, would it be alright if you could re-post a link to it here? :)