Etching is a way of making images using metal plates and acid.

PROCESS: The plate is covered with a soft varnish which is scratched through to make an image. The plate is then immersed in acid. The acid eats only that part of the metal uncovered by the scratching of the varnish. The plate is then prepared with ink and rolled through a press with paper.

BRIEF HISTORY: The earliest dated etching (1513) is by the Swiss Urs Graf. Durer used the technique, and some of the high points of the history of etching are Rembrandt, Piranesi's Prisons and Ruins of Rome, Goya's Caprices of War, Edvard Munch, Chagall, Dali, Miro, and Picasso. More recently Lucian Freud and David Hockney have produced exciting bodies of etchings.

NOW: Currently, artists are showing a new interest in a wide range of approaches to etching and other print media, experimental and traditional, abstract and representational. Nationally and internationally there are annual print shows and competitions, and printmaking groups and associations are active all over the world.

OTHER PROCESSES: Besides hard-ground etching, other printmaking techniques to look out for are soft-ground etching, drypoint, engraving, aquatint, spit bite aquatint, sugar-lift aquatint, burnished aquatint, mezzotint, screenprint, lithograph, woodcut, wood-engraving, lino-cut, Japanese wood-blocks, and digital.

Many printmakers experiment with combinations of these processes. Brief descriptions of some of the different processes can be found at:

www.meyerovich.com/info/glossary.html

www.worldprintmakers.com/english/pmtechni.htm

www.spencerart.ku.edu/print09a.html

www.spencerart.ku.edu/techmap/techmap.htm (with illustrations)

Websearches for the following words will take you to information and images: 

Etching: ets, etsen, etsning, aeting, stregætsning, etsaus, ofort, aetsning, radering, radierung, syövytys 銅版画

Drypoint: droge naald, tornål, tornålsgravyr, kuivaneula, kuivnõel

Aquatint: akvatintetsning, akvatinta, akvatinte