Copper Plate Etching Using Ferric Chloride (June)

Copper Plate Etching Using Ferric Chloride (June)


10:00 am - 4:00 pm



Wivenhoe Printshop
23/24 Wivenhoe Business Centre, Colchester, Essex, CO7 9DP

Event Type

Online bookings now open.
If you need further information please contact John Wallett by email or text

mob: 07757305327

This one-day workshop will introduce you to the theory and practice of preparing, etching and printing from a Copper plate using the ‘Edinburgh Etch’. This is a mix of Ferric Chloride and Citric Acid which gives a highly effective but relatively a non-toxic alternative to the old style Nitric Acid.

During the session you will prepare your plate with a ‘hard ground’ (protective  surface) and then scratch a design through into it. These plates will then be etched in using Ferric Chloride mix. This solution bites into the Copper where the protective surface has been scratched away, deepening and intensifying the lines and tones you have created. When the plates are ready we will clean them thoroughly before inking them up to be printed at high pressure on our large etching press. You will be able to create and proof-print a complete Copper plate etching using this process. We will also introduce you to the use of both traditional and acrylic-based ‘soft ground’ which allows you to add a range of softer textures before  and between etchings.

Etching the Copper plates using these processes gives a very nice range of line and texture, plates can be etched several times if deeper tones and textures are desired, and the resulting plate surface combines a very good ability to hold ink in even the finest lines whilst having a nice smooth top surface allowing a clean and controlled wipe-off on the white areas.

Links for background on etching processes

(we also have some books plus printed notes on basic etching using this process)

Follow-up sessions

We are very excited to be able to add proper metal etching to the range of platemaking facilities here at Printworks, and thank all the artists and printmakers who have encouraged us to develop this process. Copper plates allow repeated work adding new textures and deepening the tones in the plate. After you have made your first proof there will be opportunities to use the facilities to work further on it or to try the techniques you learn to do new and exciting work. We always have stocks of plates and chemicals available at low cost. Please ask at a session or email us if you want to extend your etching experience here.


Etching is the process of engraving lines and tones into hard (often metal) printing plates and the use of these to make richly varied prints which employ a wide range of tone and texture available when highly pigmented inks are printed at high pressure onto fine papers.

Etching has been a traditional practice going back to the printers and artists of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It is also a set of techniques which modern artists continue to explore and develop. Metal etching traditionally used highly dangerous chemicals like Nitric Acid to bite texture deep into copper and steel plates.

Because of these corrosive chemicals, etching has been an area of printmaking that we have steered away from for environmental and safety reasons. So we were very excited to discover that over the last few years modern artist print-makers have been exploring new fusions of chemistry and art to promote the use of non-hazardous etching processes which can nevertheless deliver very fine quality results without danger to people or the environment.




Bookings are closed for this event.

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