Understanding What Etching Has To Do With Art Print Creation: A Collide Of Techniques
Art prints are each their own original works because each will have either intentional or unintentional flaws. They are created through various techniques, often involving a tableau created from wood, linoleum, or metal. Wood block prints, for example, are created from carving out a design on a wood block and repeatedly inking the wood block prior to imprinting the block on a piece of paper. If you hear about things like Louisiana art print etching, you might wonder how etching comes into play in the art printing world. Here is where these two art techniques collide.
Art prints are also referred to as "impressions" because the print is created from an impression made in the printing block material. A metal impression is very unique to the printing process because, unlike linoleum cuts and wood blocks, you cannot simply carve the metal to create your design. The metal requires something a little more caustic in nature to make the intended design appear.
Etching the Metal Plate
Here is where etching comes into play. The artist draws a design on the metal plate as a guide for the etching process. He or she may then use sharp instruments to create scratch marks into the design to act as channels for the next step. In the next step, the metal plate goes into the etching bath. The areas that were scratched become indented, creating grooves where more ink will sit and create the lines of the design on paper.
Instead of an acid bath, the artist may also (very carefully!) apply the acid by hand to the design on the metal plate. Then he/she has to wait for the acid to fully etch the plate before rinsing the plate in a rinse bath. The plate has to be fully neutralized and dried before any ink can be rolled over the plate, or the acid will cause the ink to disintegrate and run.
Etched Prints Cost More Because of the Danger of the Work Involved
You can generally tell when a print was made with an etched metal plate versus a linoleum cut or wood block. The price of an etched print is much higher, and rightly so. The artist uses materials that could literally burn holes in his/her flesh, and the possible cost of personal injury is taken into account when calculating the price of the print. Now that you know what it takes to make such a print, and how etching is a part of the art print creation process, you may be inclined to pay the artist his/her asking price on a print.