Last year, when I started preparing plates for a new series of etchings for the “7 Printmakers” exhibit in San Diego in October, I wondered as I worked how many non-etchers know what goes into preparing metal plates to create an original etching?
Milled plate surface
Etchings are original prints, printed on paper from a plate that was created by the artist, and inked and printed by hand by the artist or a master printer.
Before the image-making work can even begin, there is work to prepare the plate for the process. I work on zinc, which is milled in such a way that the plate is smooth and flat, but it has a dull surface with a vague pattern from the milling. If inked and printed without any prep work, the plate would produce a uniform dirty grey tone.