Chemical etching of copper; etching resists
Excellent etching tips here recently! Special thanks to Karen
Christians for her very complete protocol. I agree about Penny
Brite! Love the stuff-thanks for the source-I’m running low, and
couldn’t remember where I bought it last. I use it too as a
pre-patina clean. before liver-of-sulphur or heat-coloring.
Can I use the transparency film in my computer laser printer, rather
than using a photocopier? Is there anything different about laser
copiers as opposed to laser printers? The local copy shop is very
unfriendly and hostile about things that aren’t standard paper
I know there’s a lot of different resists out theRe: suitable for
different applications. If you want to draw your designs into the
resist, I still like the traditional printmaking etching resists. I
was a printmaker before I was a jeweler (I should have known what
was in my future, when I cared more about the plate than the print).
“Hard ground” is for drawing into: you can achieve wonderfully fine
lines. I use it for calligraphy. It does not chip, unless you’re
really rough with the edges. Easy to apply with a brayer (the cheap
4" blockprinting kind). Pour some into a pie tin, roll, roll, coat
the metal. It “sets up” quickly enough to apply 3 coats in several
minutes. It’s sort of waxy. It does not have to be totally opaque.
Let air dry overnight, then draw. It dries out slowly enough so
there’s no rush to finish the drawing. 2-3 days, it’s still ok.
Think of all those complicated etchings you’ve seen with millions of
lines: it took time to make all those. Those printmakers were using
a “take-your-time, get-it right” resist like hard ground. Mistakes
or scratches can be fixed with red stop-out varnish, which is
fast-drying and alcohol-based. On a curved surface, use a brush to
apply the ground, but it’s much harder to get an even thickness.
Don’t use it for the back of the plate, where you need to stick the
tape that will hold it in the mordant. (Also, don’t use water-base
stop-out varnish! Pinholes galore.) After etching remove ground with
mineral spirits. Very sloppy but not difficult to remove.
Soft Ground is for impressing a texture into. I’ve never tried this.
I have a rolling mill for that.
There’s a harder ground too, that has to be melted on, with a
hotplate underneath. I don’t recall what that is for: I think really
There is a thinner, paint-on ground, called “Jane’s Ground” that is
wonderful for painting fine details. But I got mine from someone
else, and now can’t find the source.
Asphaltum is sticky and messy, in my opinion. I find it harder to
draw into, more prone chipping when it gets too dry. Asphaltum is an
ingredient in hard and soft grounds. The grounds are more like a
cross between tar and wax: tar to stick and wax to dry.
Graphic Chemical in Villa Park IL is a major supplier: you can buy
direct or through an art supply store.