Etching is an ancient skill. I etch on sheets of copper which are degreased and coated in a layer of wax. I then draw into the wax using a fine needle, removing the wax without scratching the surface. When the copper plate is dipped into acid, this eats into the exposed metal creating texture. An engraver cuts into the metal using sharp tools, an etcher lets the acid do the work for them.
In order to see exactly what this texture looks like I take a “proof” print of the plate. Oil based ink is rubbed into the cracks and crevices in the plate and the surface is then cleaned. The plate passes through a press where the image is drawn out of the texture onto damp paper. This, of course, will be a mirror image of what has been drawn originally.
This process is repeated many times with more being added to the image until I am happy with what I see. The production of a plate ready to the point where I can pull the edition can take many months. The final stage of preparation is sending the plate away to have a very fine coating of steel applied. Amazingly this does not affect the image but it does enable me to print in colour.
The “pulling” (or printing) of an individual etching can take up to half an hour for each one of the plates has to be covered in all the colours used, the surface cleaned and the plates put through the press. Because each one is hand inked and I am not a machine each one will be subtly unique. The damp paper is allowed to dry naturally for up to a week between sheets of acid free tissue paper that are changed every day. Then it is numbered (each edition is limited to 150) titled and signed.
“A gift for that special occasion”
For those wishing to give an etching as a special gift I can write beneath the title a short dedication of their choice to personalise a present for an important occasion.