Etching; what kept me from actually doing it was the fact that in order to etch you were required to use all sorts of concoctions involving hydrochloric acid, nitric acid and sodium chlorate; all of those to be handled with holy respect as they are extremely corrosive and in the process of etching emit fumes, capable of stripping off the lining of your lungs. I spent sufficient time in laboratories to know that the least requirement was a well ventilated fume cupboard for which at this moment haven’t got the room or the funds for.

Sooooo....after looking around on the net I found this gem ,a web page from a Sydney based

Printmaking Studio. Text is by Ad Stijnman.

He discusses a technique which was used sometime in the nineteenth century in France and rediscovered by, among others, Cedric Green, who also has a website describing the technique which he has named Bordeaux etching; etching in zinc plate with copper sulphate which practically eliminates all aforementioned hazards.

Armed with a ten percent solution of copper sulphate, a solution of sodium bicarbonate, two flat glass dishes, a pair of rubber gloves and running water handy I set out to try this and... great. It worked like a charm. Thanks very much.

Still I found it a hurried process, with a feather you had to busy to stop sediment building up in the intaglio and if not careful it could easily go too deep and there could be underbite.

After a kind heart donated a neat stack of copper plate I did some more searching and found what is called The Edinburgh Etch, specially for copper and brass etching. A mixture of Ferric Sulphate and Citric Acid.

I found it great to work with. As it takes a while it was very easy to control, no sludge forming and a beautiful sharp bite, no under biting. As the process is slow it easy to stop it and stop out areas you don’t want to etch deeper and after that you can carry on.

I include an url to the web page from the inventor of this particular mordant with an in depth description of the process.

Drypoint; Is scratchin the image with a very sharp hard steel point in a plate of zinc, copper or plexi glass. The idea is that the scratch creates a burr. When you ink the plate and then wipe it, the burr will retain the ink and when printed gives it a distinctive velvety line which is very beautiful. However the burr does collapse after several runs of printing and after a certain number looses its quality. In my experience, with plexi glass you will be lucky to get more than three prints of a plate, zinc something like ten and copper a few more. It is possible to have copper plates steel plated to give them a longer life.

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