I've officially started building a studio around this beautiful Praga etching press!!! She's not an American Charles Brand but, still a true beauty. If you are not familiar with etching stay tuned while I drop some knowledge and history on the matter.
Etching: is the process of using a corrosive acid or mordant to bite down into exposed metal, therefore creating incised lines or tone that will become your image. Ink is then wiped into the etched lines on the plate while excess ink is wiped clean from the surface. Now that the ink is trapped in the recessed lines it is ready to be printed.
The etching press itself is a very straight forward machine. It consists of a top and bottom roller which is in contact with a flat hard bed. The rollers squeeze the bed between them while a wheel/crank rotates one of the rollers. The bed drives forward carrying the etched plate and dampened paper under the rollers. The pressure of the rollers is used to push the paper into the ink filled etched lines, therefore producing a printed image.
A Brief History of Etching:
Etching with acid onto metal existed as early as the 1400's with the etchers guild providing elaborately decorated armor and swords of the time. It wasn’t until the late 15th century when German etcher, Daniel Hopfer, would apply these methods to printmaking by inventing the first etching press. Etching, also referred to as intaglio or (to incise) soon gained popularity as a printmaking medium in Italy. Italians quickly developed etching techniques utilizing copper plates instead of the original iron plates from Germany. As etching became popular it challenged the existing engraving methods of the time.
The main difference between engraving and etching is that the former requires the trained skill in wielding a burin, metal cutting tool, while the latter demands familiarity and control while handling an acid. Although I think both are equally hard to master, the results of etching seem to be a bit more freeing in line weight and tone.
Today there are a variety of plate materials to choose from, such as copper, zinc, steel and polymer. The basics are still there, however in this digitized age presses are hard to come by and the craft is far less popular.
Since etching holds a beloved space in my heart, I hope to publish more pictures of my work and process soon!