"Original" prints are images made by the artist from beginning to end directly in or on the plate, stone, wood block & other matrix. Each print is a work of art, one of a limited edition and signed by the artist. The photo mechanical reproduction of paintings and drawings are often described as ‘Fine Art Prints’ but this term is misleading as they are not works of art, even if they have an artist’s signature.
What is etching?
Etching is an intaglio printmaking technique, where artistic impressions are printed from the incised lines of an inked plate.
To make a simple etching, lines are drawn with a needle onto a metal plate (usually copper) through an acid-resistant substance (called a hard or soft ground). The plate is then immersed in an acid bath which causes the exposed copper to be "etched," or "bitten" leaving fine lines below the surface of the plate. When these lines are deep enough, they will hold ink, once the ground is removed.
To print a simple etching, special ink is spread into the plate; this ink is pushed into the incised lines created below the surface of the plate. Then, extra ink from the surface is taken off ("wiped off") with a tarletan cloth and hand wiped with the palm of the master printer's hand. The plate is placed face up on an etching press, a dampened sheet of paper is placed on top of the plate, then special blankets are placed over the paper and then all is rolled (hand cranked) through the press. After the print is taken off the press, it is placed under heavy boards to dry..
This process creates one print: to make another print, it is repeated over again until the edition is completed.
The technique described above is called hard-ground etching. It produces an image resembling a pen and ink drawing. There are many other techniques including soft ground, lift ground, spitbite, and photoetching creating an assortment of marks offering an artist an unlimited array of visual possibilities.
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