After completing our explorations of monoprinting in my printmaking class, we ventured into the world of line etching. The first process we explored is called hard ground. The process starts by coating a zinc plate with a tar mixture and letting it dry. When the ground dries it is hard, but fragile enough to chip or scratch through. Then an image is scratched into the ground so the plate is exposed. The plate is then put into an acid bath to etch the lines. The etching process is typically done in multiple stages by scratching additional lines into the ground and then etching for half the time... and so on until all the etching is completed. This creates some very dark lines, some very light lines, and some in the middle.
For my first hard ground plate I used a drawing I made while in Florence last year. It shows the statues in the town square next to the Loggia of the Lancers. I printed an edition of three for my project, as well as two Artist Proofs. An edition consists of multiple prints off of the same plate, printed to look identical.
Artist Proofs, also known as AP, are unique prints made from a plate. APs can be created by leaving extra ink on the plate before printing, hand coloring a completed print, using a mixture of colored inks, applying cut pieces of paper, etc. The process I used for my APs is called chine colle. After applying ink to the plate and preparing it for printing, cut pieces of paper are moistened, coated with wallpaper paste, and carefully placed on the plate glue side up. The plate is then printed like usual. The pieces of cut paper are adhered to the printing paper, and the image is printed on top.
Stay tuned for a post about another etching technique: soft ground!