For the past 3 monday evenings i have taken part in an etching course in London. The course was run by adult education people, City Lit, at their site just off Drury Lane.
They had a nice little print studio which was at full capacity with the 15 or-so students on the course. It ran for 3 hours per night, for 3 evenings, and cost £75. this included materials, tuition, and use of the studio (materials included 1 small zinc etching plate, standard printmaking paper, inks and such. we had to provide our own gloves and buy the nice Somerset paper if we wanted to). We were instructed to bring 'source imagery' for the first session, which should have read 'a finalized image'- many of us wasted quite a bit of time trying to get a competed design from our source imagery. I brought my sketchbook along, which included my sketches from the recent Grayson Perry exhibition at the British Museum.
The first session consisted of mainly a presentation explaining the etching process, introduction of the students, safety information, finalizing our images, and preparing the plates (polishing, bevelling the edges, de-greasing).
In our second session we did the first etching process- 'hard ground'. this means we coated our plates with a layer of wax which we then scraped our design into. it was a very easy process as you only scratch into the thin wax layer- not the metal at all. of course, the acid does that! below is a print from the original hard ground layer. you use this method to get hard, precise lines. the ink is buffed into the engraved lines and wiped away from the flat 'relief' areas (intaglio printing).
i chose to use a sketch from a russian 19th century woodcut. i thought it had a lot of potential for the coloured background/ textures. it's an image of a forge for turning old people into young people. suitably weird :)
in the last session we added a 'soft ground' layer, a stickier wax, which is used to create shading or softer lines. below is my final plate. soft ground was really nice to work into- you can place tissue over the wax and rub into it with your fingers, a pencil, or textured material.
and here's my final etching with the softground! i used my fingers and fingernail to create the texture.
in the final session we also did some monotype coloured layers behind the etching. i wasnt so mad on this because we were running out of time and i didnt have time to plan the image. we rolled coloured printing ink onto a plastic plate, and dropped spirits/tissue/etc onto the ink to create a random effect. i can see it has great potential but i could have easily spent another session experimenting.
as you can see, in the above image, i used way too much ink. the below image is a ghost print of the above image, plus another splodgy/painted background.
lastly here's an image i experimented with some coloured layers on photoshop.