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Printmaking (engraving, etching, aquatint)

Engraving, etching, and aquatint are three traditional intaglio printmaking methods. Intaglio refers to the process of designing by cutting (either by a tool or with acid) below the surface of a copper plate, which is then inked and printed on paper with a hand press.

Engraving involves the use of a metal-cutting tool, or burin, to cut lines into the plate. The resulting grooves hold the ink for printing the design.

Etching employs the corrosive action of acid to produce the design. The etcher first scratches the design with a needle through a wax ground on a prepared metal plate and then immerses the plate in acid. The acid eats into the areas of the plate exposed by the scratches, forming recessed lines that will hold ink for printing.

Aquatint, used for shading and tonal areas, is produced by the action of acid around tiny grains of rosin dusted and melted onto the plate. The acid eats around the edges of the rosin powder, creating grainy surfaces that, when printed, reproduce the tones of watercolor drawings.




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