Copper Plate Etching Using Ferric Chloride (May)

Copper Plate Etching Using Ferric Chloride (May)


2:00 pm - 5:00 pm


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

Event Type

Event postponed. Further details shortly

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.

Etching the Copper plates using this method 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.


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.

Please email us if you have any questions about this technique.


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.



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