Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Engraving vs Etching


#1

Hello all,

Perhaps this is not a good question, but what about engraving vs
etching? I have done enough of each to realize that I can
efficiently make hideous things. However, I was thinking, are both
held in equal esteem in the trade? By engraving, I mean the art of
using tools by hand to form either metal or wax or some medium into
a desirable object. By etching, I mean using the resist and
basically chemicals to form the design. So I am framing it as
mechanical versus chemical means of putting the design into the
medium.

Is etching a skill more easily learned than engraving? Are both
equally valued? Or is just who you ask?

Thanks.
Seech


#2

This is an opinion but in my mind engraving is the greater art. I
have seen great etching in printmaking but it is the print not the
plate that is the art. But again it is an opinion.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#3

Both are seen equally in the art world. In the end it is the results
of the finished piece and not the process that impacts the viewer and
some many find one process is better for their skill set. Honestly,
you would not use the two process to create the same thing because
they have different characteristics. Each process has unique
qualities worth exploring, and you should pick the process that best
expresses your vision for your work.

Melissa Stenstrom


#4

I would agree with Jim Binnion, and I am a printmaker also. There
are a huge number of things you can do when printing a plate that
affect the appearance of the print, but they don’t affect the
appearance of the plate. I etch and do a tiny bit of engraving, and I
would say definitely that engraving is both harder to do, and capable
of producing greater artistic efforts in the metal itself. For
printmaking, I prefer etching… but not when the final art work is
to be the metal.

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#5

I also agree with just about anything Jim Binnion says.

Etching and engraving are such different disciplines that they really
shouldn’t be linked. Personal opinion! They are linked by some;
perhaps degradation of the English language is at fault.

I do have some experience with engraving; as an observer only with
etching, but also an admirer.

“Goya’s Ghost” is a movie that has received little attention, but has
a beautiful sequence of how etching may have been done by Goya, a
master etcher.

KPK


#6
Etching and engraving are such different disciplines that they
really shouldn't be linked. Personal opinion! They are linked by
some; perhaps degradation of the English language is at fault. 

they are linked because when relief engraving is required, first the
bulk of metal removed by etching, and then design refined with
gravers. This is traditional approach to engraving on steel.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#7

the only etching I have done is buy accident when I spilled
something caustic. ;~)

I do engrave with a hammer & chisel and the layout, actual cutting,
sharpening of tools etc. is imho way far away from etching. I do not
discount the process or the art created but I don’t think they belong
in the same basket. Some etchings are beautiful, some engravings are
not. I say pick one and go with it but there seem to be many more
objects embellished with engraving than etching.

my $.02, happy Friday
mtlctr


#8

I agree that engraving is a far more skilled discipline than
etching. I’ve had a go at both, and I can say that I can etch to a
fairly good and salable standard, but I can NOT engrave. Engraving
takes years and years of practice to become accomplished, but it is
possible to learn to etch in short order. As long as you can
successfully transfer an image onto metal and carry out the etching
at about the right concentration and for the right amount of time,
you can produce good results. I don’t see them as interchangeable
either. The results are entirely different.

Helen
UK


#9

My few cents worth.

Although seemingly similar, they both involve removal of metal to
produce a design, both the process involved and the end product
define different disciplines. Both have their place and neither is
subordinate to the other.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Alliance, OH


#10
they are linked because when relief engraving is required, first
the bulk of metal removed by etching, and then design refined with
gravers. This is traditional approach to engraving on steel. 

That might be an approach to engraving on steel, but most of the
gun engravers I’ve seen have done all their cutting with air powered
gravers or the real traditional approach - hammer and chisel. Some
might use carbide burs for cutting the background when deep relief is
needed, but gravers work just as well.

At any rate I’ve only rarely played around with etching, but it was
always my understanding that very deep etches are undesirable because
the sides of the etched voids are prone to undercutting.

Willis


#11

Hi,

Perhaps this is not a good question, but what about engraving vs
etching? 

Most of the difference between etching and engraving is the type of
line you get. In etching most surfaces are matt finished, except for
those that are masked off. You of course can buff the item to bring
it up to polish. Everything is going to be rounded to some degree.

Engraving starts out differently, you can engrave a polished cut.
This is called bright cutting. Because the graver is highly polished,
it will produce a high polish cut that is clean and crisp. So extreme
high detail is possible in a very small place. The head of a pin,
small. We use binocular micro scopes to make the work easier.

Some engravers also do etching to remove background areas, it
pictures.

Jim
Jim Zimmerman
Alpine Custom Jewellers & Repair
http://www.handengravingcanada.com


#12
That might be *an* approach to engraving on steel, but most of the
gun engravers I've seen have done all their cutting with air
powered gravers or the real traditional approach - hammer and
chisel. 

If you are implying that your personal experience is an irrevocable
proof that practice of engraving on steel is exactly as you describe
it, than I must point out that it can only be true, if your
experience encompasses most of the engravers in the whole wide world.
Somehow, I doubt that this might be the case.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#13
both the process involved and the end product define different
disciplines. Both have their place and neither is subordinate to
the other 

Been reading and not posting on this thread, because Mike pretty
well nails it. “Do you walk to school or does your mother make your
lunch?”

From the point of view of the regard of your peers: If you have the
setup, you can get a photo, halftone it and photoetch it in a couple
of hours.

You can learn how to do that in a few hours, too. And you will have
an etching. Taking that same photo, transferring it to metal and
laboriously engraving the lines, tone and shading - not just so it’s
a picture but something of beauty - is an entirely different animal,
and people recognize that.

But that doesn’t mean that one is “better” than the other- they’re
just two different processes with two different results. It’s not a
battle:

“ENGRAVING VS ETCHING, THE MOTION PICTURE!!!”


#14

In my remark “most of the gun engravers I’ve seen,” the gun
engravers I’ve seen would be the ones who habit the forums run by
Steve Lindsay and Sam Alfano. Perhaps not most of the engravers in
the whole wide world, but I imagine you’d be hard pressed to find a
larger group.

Willis


#15

Leonid, I gotta tell you I never heard of that. Relief engraving any
metal entails layout, cutting the elements and lastly removing the
background material with a usually flat graver/chisel or a 90 and
then a flat. All the engravers I know of use this process. Lots of
stuff I don’t know though.


#16
Perhaps not most of the engravers in the whole wide world, but I
imagine you'd be hard pressed to find a larger group. 

Ya know how you’re walking along and there’s a stone wall and you go
up and whack your forehead against it? Over and over and over and
over again, and it gets all bloody and it gets in your eyes and after
awhile you just can’t see anymore? Talk about pain.

Yeah, I hate when that happens…


#17
I gotta tell you I never heard of that. Relief engraving any metal
entails layout, cutting the elements and lastly removing the
background material with a usually flat graver/chisel or a 90 and
then a flat. All the engravers I know of use this process. Lots of
stuff I don't know though. 

This is definitely a fine approach, but it has a small flaw. If one
has to produce a number of items with decorated elements, where
consistency required, the only method, which is commercially
feasible, is etching.

And to really appreciate how ignorant the comments, that etching is
somehow a second rate skills, I shall say a few words about the
process.

It starts with preparing a mask of a design. To prepare a mask, it
has to be engraved first, exactly like you described; then a
printing is taken from that engraving, which becomes a mask. In
preparation of a mask, it is not enough just to engrave it. It must
be done with consideration of mordant action. The process is akin to
model making in casting, when model is produced to account for
shrinkage, metal flow and etc. Hardly the skill that can be mastered
in just a few hours, like John was proclaiming.

Engraving vs Etching is like Hand Fabrication of Jewellery vs Model
Making.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#18
it was always my understanding that very deep etches are
undesirable because the sides of the etched voids are prone to
undercutting. 

Traditionally, photo engravers and printers used Dragon’s Blood to
prevent undercutting. I understand that, for a deep etch, Dragon’s
blood powder was periodically dusted onto the plate and this was then
heated which caused the resin to be attracted to the undercuts and
act as a barrier for further etching of the undercut. I have never
seen an explanation of how the resin was prevented from adhering to
the bottom of the etched line but maybe this is a special property of
Dragon’s blood which makes it the most suitable material for this
purpose…

see:

http://tinyurl.com/yfudazg

“First find your dragon”

Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK (where dragons still roam the land!!)


#19
You can learn how to do that in a few hours, too. And you will
have an etching. 

How easy things look when someone else has to do it. One problem in
deep etching is that mordant acts not only on the floor of a grove,
but also on the walls. There are way to compensate for this, but
takes a lot of experience before one get it right. But now apparently
there is a way to learn it in a few hours. I am begging for details
of how to master that nuance in just a few hours.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#20
But now apparently there is a way to learn it in a few hours. I am
begging for details of how to master that nuance in just a few
hours. 

Oh come on Leonid! Don’t be mean!

Anyone can learn to sing opera in a few hours… but can they sing
well?

Anyone can learn to set stones in a matter of minutes… but will
the stones stay in their settings?

Yes, the basics of etching take little time to learn… then comes
the long climb to excellence.

Tony Konrath