Published on 12/07/2017
KITTY WATT is a master of the art of aquatint etching. She has a number of fine prints in our current Summer Exhibition. Here she explains the printmaking process.
Etching is an exciting and varied art form and Aquatint is one of many techniques used. There is as much skill in the inking of the plate as in producing an image in the metal, which is what makes each print so unique.
The etching plate is usually made of zinc, copper or steel. It is cleaned and coated in acid resistant 'hard ground'. The design is scratched onto the plate and immersed in acid which bites into the metal, forming a groove. This gives a line print.
Powdered rosin is sprinkled onto the plate and sealed with heat. This coats the metal in a fine dust, varnish is painted on areas of the plate to be kept light and immersed in acid for a very short time. More areas of the plate are painted as it is immersed for longer and longer times. This gives tones to the etching.
The cleaned plate is coated in ink, polished with muslin and tissue paper, before it is placed, face up, on the etching press. It is covered with damp paper and blankets before it is moved through the etching press to produce one print. It has to be re-inked for each individual Aquatint etching.