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In etching, a metal plate, mostly copper, is covered with a waxy ground which is resistant to acid. This ground is then scratched off with a pointed etching needle, exposing the bare metal. The plate is further dipped in a bath of acid, technically called the etchant. The acid bites into the metal, wherever exposed, leaving behind deep lines into the plate. The plate is inked all over which is then wiped off, leaving ink only in the etched lines. Further the plate is put through a high-pressure printing press together with a sheet of paper. The paper picks up the ink from the etched lines, making a print. The process can be repeated several times, to get as many prints required till the plate wears off.

Rembrandt, Self-portrait-in-a-cap-with-eyes-wide-open-face, 1630, etching-burin