Learning Intaglio Print Making

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As a gift to myself, after my 365 Creativity Challenge, I bought a small printing press and some etching needles.  I had never done it but wanted to desperately.  Well, the box came and I went to the library and grabbed a ton of books on etching. The books might as well have been written in Greek because I could not figure out what they were talking about!  Next I went on You Tube.  I thought seeing might be the answer.  Nope too confusing.  So I dropped the press box down in the basement and went on with life.

Until two weeks ago.

I got a brochure in the mail which of course opened to the page “Intro to Intaglio Print Making”.  It had “SIGN FROM THE UNIVERSE” written all over it. Ok not really, but it started in 2 days and if I jumped on it, this could be my opportunity to try to understand how Intaglio etching worked. So, I went for it!


Dear me, there are SO MANY steps that go into this process. No wonder I couldn’t figure it out!  I actually needed a human being to run through the process and then re-run through it 5 more times before my brain could even process it all.

In a nutshell, you take a zinc plate, you paint this toxic goo on top of it, you then draw backwards with sharp needles into the painted surface, following that you drop the plate into an acid bath and carefully rinse off the acid.  Any place the surface was scratched then gets eaten with acid. From there you take turpentine and remove the toxic goo from the top and then you can start the next step, loading the plate with ink and running it through the press.  The inking has so many steps in itself that I shall share that with you on another day.

All told, I am working on a bunch of tiny 2″x3″ zinc plates and plan on making an entire collection of small prints titled “Christmas in Rhode Island”.


This was my first attempt and the only one I have had time to pull a print of.

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The black and white is what you get, but being a color addict, I plan on water-coloring them.  I think the effect is beautiful.  This is a lobster boat with Christmas lights.

Etching (1)

Here is our state bird the “Rhode Island Red” decked out for Christmas.

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And of course I had to do a seagull by the Narragansett Towers.

This week I will pull prints of the two birds.  I also hope to create two more whimsical plates in this series.

I shall keep you abreast of my progress. Tally-ho or shall I say Intagli-ho!

Yeah that was bad I know it :)

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