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What is an etching?

An etching is a print in which the image on paper is created by pressing an etched plate against the paper.

The plate is etched through a complex multistep process.  The short explanation of the process is as follows:  First, the artist coats a metal plate with an oil-based material.  This coating is called the “ground”.  Next, the artist scratches the ground to create the image that he or she desires.  Finally, the artist washes the work with acid.  The water-based acid beads up on the coating because oil and water don’t mix, leaving the acid to etch the plate where the coating has been removed by the artist.  The ground is removed from the plate and the plate can then be used with a press to create the picture.

In some cases, the acid is applied directly to the plate without any application of a coating using methods such as open bite, brush bite, and spit bite.

Categories: Printmaking Terms, Types of Prints