"The Gates of Central Park"
Top: Etching - Printed image
Bottom: Inked Copper Plate

How a Line Etching is Created

Image above shows the line etching on top and the copper plate it was pulled from on the bottom.

How a Line Etching is Created

1.    Coating the Plate with Ground
A Clean copper plate is coated with acid resistant ground (similar to a thin coat of wax).

2.    Drawing the Image
The image is drawn onto the plate, through the ground and in reverse with an etching needle.

3.    Biting the Plate in an Acid Bath
The plate is immersed in an acid bath.  The acid “bites” into the metal where the ground was scratched away creating a depression in the copper.  The longer the plate is in the acid, the deeper the bite, thus the darker the printed line.

4.    Inking the Plate
The Ground is removed with a solvent and ink is spread onto the plate.  The excess ink is removed by buffing the plate with a tarlatan (stiff cheese cloth) and then with the heel of the hand.  The ink remains in the incised lines.

5.    Printing the Image
Once the plate in inked, it is placed on the press bed and covered with a damp piece of printing paper.  As it is cranked through the press the plate passes between the two rollers.  The pressure of the rollers forces the damp paper into the recessed lines where it picks up the ink.