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The generic name of “etching” embraces an entire category of engraving techniques that are performed by means of a basically chemical process.
To etch is to corrode a metal and dissolve it with acid. In order to control and confine the action of the acid it is necessary that the line drawn be both isolated and exposed. This is achieved by first protecting the metal plate with a coating or varnish that is acid-resistant. The lines that make up the illustration are then drawn onto the plate with an engraving needle.
The plate is then submerged in an acid bath where the acid “eats away” the metal where it was exposed by the lines.
The subsequent stage is the printing. The metal plate is inked, and the intaglio impression is pulled in the traditional handcrafted way on the manually-operated screw press.