Etching Engraving

Engraved Printing

Engraved printing, which includes etching both burin and dry-point, was born around 15th century in order to reproduce printings of famous artists. Among the different techniques of cut-engraving the most outstanding is Etching; as a matter of fact with this technique it is possible to reach results of refinement that cannot be achieved with any other type of printing. Unlike burin and dry-point which are direct engravings as they are done on the metal matrix by the artist himself, Etching is an indirect engraving as an acid solution is being used to corrode the metal.

Etching Engraving

The drawing is done with a steel point used for etching on a sheet of soft metal (generally either copper or zinc). The sheet has been previously protected with a mixture of asphalt wax and resin (that is the base of etching) and darkened with soot, while tracing the drawing the point cuts the base and in this way reaches the bare metal. The plate is then plunged into an acid that corrodes the metal. The use of different points and the different length of the dipping create engravings which are more or less deep owing to the action of the acid. This patient laborious and extremely delicate technique creates a flowing mark which is unrivalled in the line and in the softness.

Printing process

The matrix, as described above, has the drawing for reproduction engraved on the obverse. The cuttings are filled with chalcographic ink by means of a pad; then the plate is carefully cleansed with tarlatan so that the ink will set only on the engraved marks. The matrix should be put on the printing plane and a moistened paper sheet is placed on as well as a felt cover that increases the softness: then the printer exerts pressure moving the plane between the two rollers of the chalcographic press. In this way the ink runs from the engraved marks onto the sheet and the trace of the print becomes clear near the margins of the matrix: this is the special feature of the Engraved Printing. As the procedure is completely repeated for each copy there are some unavoidable small changes (hazes and marks) which create a unique work of each copy: also for this reason the Etching cannot be mixed up with other printings or reproductions mechanically executed.