Printing processes

Most of my etchings are either photo-etchings or transfer lift etchings, both forms of intaglio printing.
I will try and explain the processes for both.
No two prints of the same image will ever be identical, each print is unique.

Aquatint

Large open areas on a plate will not hold ink. These are said to be over bitten or under cut. Traditional printmakers solve this problem with an additional step called aquatinting, which is an application of a thin layer of rosin dust prior to the acid etch. This layer adds an additional resist in the open areas and will help the printmaker retain good tone in the shadows

Photo-etching

  1. Start with a photographic image which has been digitally edited and manipulated.

  2. Print onto thin acetate/transparent film (positive image)

  3. Expose image onto a light-sensitive zinc late using a loupe (magnifier) plate in a timed light box

  4. Develop the plate in a chemical developer (very like traditional photographic developer) which is acetone with dye. The portions of the plate that retain colour (blue) will form a resist to acid.

  5. Rinse the plate and dry it.

  6. (Aquatint - see separate explanation)

  7. Put the plate in an acid bath. The acid will bite into the unexposed areas, forming recesses.

  8. Regularly check surface of metal plate using a loupe (magnifier).

  9. When you are satisfied with degree of 'bite', clean the plate with methylated spirits.

  10. Rinse the plate and dry it.

  11. Ink up the plate, then wipe well. You want the ink to be in the recesses or bitten areas, but removed from the smooth surface.

  12. Run the plate through an intaglio press in contact with damp paper. The ink will be forced out of the recesses, forming your print.

Transfer Lift Etching

  1. Start with a photographic image which has been digitally edited and manipulated.

  2. Print off a negative and flipped laser copy of the image.

  3. Soak laser copy in water.

  4. Using a sponge and printing ink (loosened with copper plate oil), apply ink to photocopy. This takes time, you need a good covering. The ink adheres to the black areas on the photocopy.

  5. Using a metal plate (zinc or steel), transfer the inked up photocopy onto the plate.

  6. Roller the photocopy in order to transfer as much of the ink/image as possible onto the plate.

  7. Peel the photocopy from the plate, leaving a negative inky image on the plate.

  8. (Aquatint - see separate explanation)

  9. Put metal plate in acid bath. The acid will will bite into the unexposed areas, forming recesses.

  10. Regularly check surface of metal plate using a loupe (magnifier).

  11. When you are satisfied with degree of 'bite', clean the plate with methylated spirits and white spirit.

  12. Rinse the plate and dry it.

  13. Ink up the plate, then wipe well. You want the ink to be in the recesses or bitten areas, but removed from the smooth surface.

  14. Run the plate through an intaglio press in contact with damp paper. The ink will be forced out of the recesses, forming your print.