Thursday 11 September 2014


When I did my Fine Art degree in the 90's I specialised in the printmaking technique of Etching.

One of my first etchings of the stairs in Harlech Castle, Wales.
  • Heres a basic guide to etching: Etching involves a metal plate being covered with a waxy ground which is resistant to acid. The image is then scraped though the ground with a pointed etching needle so the bare metal is exposed. The metal plate is then put into a bath of acid which bites into the exposed metal leaving grooves. The ground is then cleaned off the plate ready for printing. The plate is inked all over and then the ink wiped off the surface, leaving only the ink in the etched lines which is then put through an etching press which forces the ink into the paper.

During my degree course we used to use nitric acid to etch into steel printing plates. The nitric acid also used to etch into clothes, shoes and hands too! Most of my clothes and shoes had tiny holes or yellow stains from the acid! We had to wear goggles, gloves and masks and it wasn't too healthy! Therefore when I left university it wasn't really feasable to carry on etching as using nitric acid isn't good at home!

Heres a few of my etchings from my university days when I was the only one interested in etching so usually had the studio to myself to experiment! (Apologies for some of the wonky photos!)
A white ground etching using washing powder as a resist for the acid!

Photo etching of Witley Court in Worcestershire.
Photo etching of Witley Court from the same angle after a fire had destroyed part of the building.
Dudley Castle

I carried on after university with my painting and producing collagraph prints which is a very safe non toxic form of printmaking and I produce these on my dining room table.

Recently I met a local printmaker Linda Nevill who introduced me to her lovely studio and the technique of safe etching!  She etches aluminium metal plates in a mix of copper sulphate, salt and water. Check out Lindas Etsy shop to see some of her etchings:
My first etching for nearly 20 years!
 I was really impressed with how quick the metal etched and also how easy and safe this was to do. 

Sleeping Cat etching
For an early birthday present Linda gave me some copper sulphate and aluminium so that I can now start etching at home! I'm planning on turning part of the shed into a mini etching studio and hopefully soon you will see lots of new etchings from me, so exciting!!

Clare xx

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