I took my first printmaking class in my final year at the College for Creative Studies and fell in love with this intricate and complicated process. Etching has given my artwork the look I had been searching for that fit my style perfectly. While pen and ink is still integral to my process, being able to supplement with etching as well has helped me create illustrations I am very proud of. I discovered that intaglio etching is something I have to never give up on.
I start my intaglio etchings with a detailed pencil drawing on paper. I then transfer the drawing with red oxide transfer paper onto a copperplate prepared with a hard ground that creates a waxy resist. This creates a faint red copy of my drawing in reverse on the ground covered plate. Next, I use my etching needle to remove the ground to expose the copper underneath, essentially drawing my entire image again with a needlepoint. Once the drawing is done, the plate gets dipped in an acid tank for specified amounts of minutes to etch the image into the copper. The ground protects the whole piece of copper from being etched away. Ink is then scraped over the plate and wiped away so that the ink only stays in the lines that have been etched. The copper is pulled through the printing press with the presoaked paper. The high pressure from the printing press pushes the paper into the ink filled lines and transfers the image onto the paper. This process is long and involved, but that is also what makes it extremely fun and rewarding.