Q&A ~ I want to get started etching…but how?

I really love the look of etched prints and I think my drawings are definitely suited to the medium. But how do I get started? I’ve looked at local art school courses but they only offer courses in relief printing (lino, woodcut etc)

Obviously purchasing a press is out of the question. Any ideas? I’m in Vancouver BC.

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3 thoughts on “Q&A ~ I want to get started etching…but how?

  1. Hi Tim,

    Etching is a complicated and exacting art.

    My advice to you would be to seek out some lessons with a printmaker. This is one medium where you really need the hands on experience, as there are many variables and much of it is difficult to learn from books.

    Is there a printmaker’s co-op in your area? If so, drop by and introduce yourself, you might find a receptive and helpful ear.

    I learned for many years under a master printmaker, and he was still correcting me (rightfully) after all that time. You will be working with metal plates, acid and some complicated procedures. Please don’t try to do this alone, get hands on help from someone who knows what they are doing.

    Presses are extremely expensive, so try it for a while and be sure that it’s for you before you invest in a press.

  2. Yes I do have an idea. But first ,etching is a form of relief printmaking. In wood and lino cuts you cut into the materials with a tool/knife.blade. In etching on metal you cut down( or "bite",as some say) into it with acid..Etching is an old process not used very much commercially for printing anymore .Because of the drawing aspects it is a good subject in the art schools Steeped in tradition and a very fine medium it does however require an investment in equipment,and not just the cost of the press.. Dangerous,a little because of the use of acid to etch the metal. A friend wanted to give her high school students a taste of etching as a printing medium. But high school students being children acid use was out of the question,just because of the fumes alone,never mind the acid burn potential for children that like to goof around too much Then she found out about using plexiglas sheets, and a stiles.used to scratch/draw into the plexiglas. All the same stiles techniques could be used line drawing,cross–hatching whatever. Everything is done just as you would using zinc or copper plates drawing,inking,printing Just no acid needed. She was able to borrow a table mounted printing press. With a roller adjustable for thick wood and lino blocks and for the sheets of plexiglas, Felt blankets had to be used just as with a metal plate. They inked those puppies up and you couldn’t tell the difference between those prints and prints made using metal plates. the art supply company, Dick Blick sells a small table top printing press.I don’t recall the dimensions of the bed However the length of 19 inches comes to mind,but not the width…They also sell the felt blankets, inks, whatever else that is needed. I think that the price was a little over a hundred dollars(US) but under two hundred(US) but don’t quote me on this, it has been a few years since this all happened Here is the link:.

    http://www.dickblick.com/

  3. I loved my etching classes and although I can’t afford to take any more classes right now, I have discovered mezzotint and drypoint techniques which I love and best of all I can continue to use without the use of acids.
    I have invested in a table top printer, but if I want to print larger editions I know I can use drop in centres [where you can pay a small amount to either use the facilities for yourself or pay a little extra for help]Taking classes was well worth it and a wonderful way to gain confidence as well as the knowledge needed to work in this exacting medium.

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