Copper Etching Hard Ground: Step Three – Etching

Posted on: September 27th, 2014
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Check the chart and follow all the safety rules for Ferric Chloride. Wear goggles, gloves (the Nitrile kind) and an apron. Be careful not to get the ferric on your skin and watch your clothes as the ferric stains. Etch for the desired amount of time and bite. The longer your plate is in the ferric, the thicker and deeper/blacker the line-work. Beginners should check their plates every 5-7 minutes to ensure that the ground is holding up. You can also etch for a set amount of time, cover it with stop-out varnish, continue to scratch into the plate, and then etch again.


You can leave the floor wax on the plate to print. If you leave the wax on, you will have less plate tone. Plate tone is the subtle haze-like colour in the background of your print. If you decide to take the ground off before printing, just pour the soda ash solution into a tray and place the plate in the solution (6 TBSP soda ash to 2L of hot H2O). A plate inked without floor wax, generally results in more plate tone.

Stop-Out Varnish 

This is a helpful varnish that covers/stop-outs mistakes that you don’t want to etch. It also protects lines/marks that have been etched long enough, or can be used on top of aquatint as a drawing/resist process.

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