Etching is a process that comes under a range of printmaking techniques collectively known as ‘Intaglio’, where the ink pushed into etched out grooves and pits in the plate and wiped off the plate surface. The plate is metal, generally copper or steel and the image is transferred onto paper by using a traditional etching press.

Process one

A metal plate, usually copper or steel, is coated with a wax ground. This ground will protect the plate from the etching solution. The image is drawn into the ground with an etching point, exposing the metal below.

An etching being completed by a person engraving the stencil
An Etching being handled by a person wearing rubber gauntlets
Process two

Once the image is drawn up the plate is put in an etch solution, which eats into the exposed metal to create furrows in the plate. The etched plate now has lots of furrows that can hold ink. The plate is coated in ink and coarse scrim is used to force the ink into the grooves and polish it off the surface.

Process three

The plate is laid on the bed of a press, dampened paper put on top and once it goes through the press, the image is transferred onto the paper.

A finished stencil etching laying beside a print of the artwork it had made