Etching is as much about the process as it is about the result: the actual print. It involves a metal plate and an acid-biting material that eats into the surface to create an image.
To begin, the metal (zinc or copper) plate is covered with a protec- tive “hard-ground”. A design is drawn and scratched into the hard- ground layer, exposing the metal plate. The exposed areas are then etched, or eaten away, in a bath of nitric acid. The longer the plate is in the acid, the deeper the bite will be. Acid is a medium that can be moody and temperamental, and multiple stages in the acid bath are often needed to achieved a desired design.
Once a plate has been etched, the hard ground is removed, and ink is rubbed into the newly etched lines. Moistened cotton rag paper is placed on the inked plate, and together they are run through a press. The result is a print of the etched design, only in reverse!
The exploration continues in the printing process by creating vari- ations in the application of the ink and the use of different colors, as well the application of decorative papers, as in collage - a technique called chin colle. As a result, no two prints are the same.