Etching by Jennifer Harris.


Etching is the opposite of wood engraving in that the image is printed from the lines incised in the plate, rather than from the surface. It’s also different from engraving, with which it’s often confused, because in etching the acid does all the work.

It is a very time consuming activity, some of the prints shown here have taken up to three months to finish. Each print is unique, as it is made by hand. There are many stages in the process, starting with ‘laying a ground’ ( a waxy covering) over the etching ‘plate’ which is usually copper. This protects the plate against the action of the acid. 

The design is drawn on the plate with a needle, and where the ground is removed, the acid will bite into the copper, resulting in cavities in the surface which will subsequently hold the printing ink. Heavy pressure from the printing rollers forces the ink out of the lines onto thick, dampened paper, and a print is obtained.

Using a needle will give a linear effect, tone may be added by using aquatint, a fine resin, or by pressing textures into the ground, such as leaves, fabric, tea, coffee, oats, seaweed, etc!

Spanish Mother (1976)