Etching is the process that uses an acid to etch an image into a metal plate. The metal is coated in a waxy varnish, resistant to acid firs, so the artists can draw their image onto the plate with a sharp needle (échoppe). Therefore, parts of the varnish surface are removed and the whole plate can be immersed in acid until the lines are “bitten” enough to create grooves. The longer the plate is submerged, the deeper the grooves. The metal plate is then inked all over and the surface ink drained and wiped clean, leaving ink in the etched forms. Damp paper is placed over the plate and run through a press, after which the ink is pasted on the paper, revealing the drawings. Etching produces fine lines with a wide range of different thickness, so the artists use this versatility to produce varying effects, from delicate and sensitive to frenzied and powerful.
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