Etching: Copper Plate and Ferric Chloride

Etching: Copper Plate and Ferric Chloride


10:00 am - 4:00 pm



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

Event Type

(Image: Kit Leese: ‘Road to Buttermere’ Etched on a copper plate, with ferric chloride. This print was completed using line and aquatint.)

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 (a mix of Ferric Chloride and Citric Acid) which 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 waxy surface) and then scratch a design through into it. These plates will then be etched in using Edinburgh Etch mix. This solution bites into the copper where the protective ground 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 the large Polymetaal etching press. You will be able to create and proof print a complete Copper plate etching using this process.


Follow-up sessions

Any students who have completed the Etching Basics and today’s workshop will be able to book for some follow-on sessions where you can come in and use the new etching facilities for a modest charge.

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.

One such artist-printmaker is Kit Leese, a founder member of the well-respected ’12PM’ group (twelve printmakers). Kit has a background not only in visual art but also in environmental resource management, a keen painter of East Anglian scenes with a professional as well as an artistic interest in waterscape and the waterside environment.




Bookings are closed for this event.

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