The etching & aquatint process yields a rich visual and tactile result on paper because of the tonal qualities and embossment of the plate into the paper. These are the very qualities that draw me to the medium. After ten or so years of etching, I feel like I have some control over the etching & aquatint process yet there are always surprises…one of the reasons I enjoy etching.
I start by coating the plate with an acid resistant ground, then scribing the line drawing though this ground to the plate. Then it is placed into the acid and etched. The lines exposed to the acid are eaten away and the result is an incised line bitten into the plate.
There are many ways to get an aquatint acid resist adhered to the plate such as melting rosin dust or spray painting the plates. The theory is that the tiny droplets of rosin or spray paint will act like an acid resist and the areas around them will dissolve though a chemical reaction with the acid. The result is a plate texture that will hold ink when it is squeegeed into the plate. You can time the acid biting to get different tonal qualities. This is called step-biting. The longer the plate is in the acid, the deeper the bite. The deeper the etch, the more ink the plate will hold. Below is the step-bite process for: The Lure.