Hard ground etching is an intaglio printmaking technique that requires a coating (ground, resistant to acid) to be placed over a metal plate before allowing acid to corrode the areas uncovered by the ground. To uncover the ground, a sharp pointed needle tool would be used, leaving exposed line work. The longer these exposed areas are in contact with acid, the darker the tone of the print.
With this theory in place, I began my very first piece of etching on copper.
We also attempted the aquatint technique, where areas that are exposed are allowed to collect the goderukum dust which is then heated to set before being put into the acid bath. This technique allows beautiful tonal gradations to be created over time in the print.
I had immense difficulty with being sensitive to the plate.
When heating the plate after the goderukum treatment, I wasn't sure how I could tell if the plate was ready.
In order to test the stability of the plate, we inked the plate using gauze that was dipped in starch. I found that I was either too rough or too gentle (too scared!), which resulted in many unsuccessful prints, made worse after wiping. I did not understand which kind of paper I should use to wipe the excess ink off the plate as well.
At the end of the day, I realized that I need more practice to be able to be more sensitive to this printing technique. It is unlike another technique that I am so fond of, drypoint, where I could easily finish inking and wiping in a jiff to produce a stable series of prints. Practice Practice Practice...