Aquatint: This technique is used to achieve tonal areas in an intaglio plate. The term stems from the Latin aquafortis, meaning “strong water” (in this case, nitric acid), and the Italian tinto, meaning “tone.” Tones are bitten into the plate after the surface has been partially covered with many tiny particles of rosin (adhered to the plate by heating) or given a 50 percent coverage of enamel spray paint from a pressurized can. The acid bites the open area around these particles, creating uniform pitting in the plate. The longer the bite, the deeper the pits and the darker the printed tone. Aquatint is most often combined with line etching and other methods. When rosin is used to achieve a tone, fine to coarse rosin powder can be used to produce textural qualities*.

Collagraph: As the name suggest, a collagraph is made from a collage plate, created by gluing materials onto a base plate, which is usually cardboard, hardboard, aluminum, or another similar material. Acrylic gesso or polymer medium are excellent gluing agents because they dry hard, yet are flexible; they can also be used in a painterly manner for image making. The collage plate is linked by the intaglio method, allowing the added materials to produce sensitive textured, tonal, and linear imagery. Any other adherents that dry hard, such as liquid solder, epoxy, lacquer, and varnish, can be used*.

Engravings: In this linear process, sharp crisp lines are made by pushing a hard steel engraving tool called a burin into a copper or brass plate. Different-sized burins creates lines of various widths. Pushing the burin deeper into the metal also yields a thicker line. Tonal areas are developed by engraving parallel and crosshatched lines. Stippling, producing fined dotted areas with an engraving tool, also creates tones. The printed engraving is an image of great clarity and precision*.

Etching: In etching, a metal plate of copper, zinc, or brass is covered with an acid-proof hard ground made of asphaltum, beeswax, rosin, and solvent. Whenever the artist scratches lines or textures in the ground, the acid will bite with clear definition. The longer the plate is left in the acid, the deeper the open lines will become, making them print heavier and increasing the strength or darkness of the print*.

Mezzotint: Often called manière noire, of the black method, mezzotint derives from repeatedly pressing a curved, serrated mezzotint rocker over the surface of a copper plate until it makes thousands of tiny little indentations. After the entire surface has been roughened, producing a rich black, scrapers, and burnishers are used to develop soft tones from dark grays to middle grays to whites*.

Soft ground: This kind of etching is done on a plate covered with a thinly applied hard ground to which petroleum jelly or tallo has been added. Since this ground never really hardens, a line or texture can be impressed into it. A line similar to a pencil stroke can be achieved by drawing on top of a textured or granular tracing paper placed over the soft ground. The texture of the paper will be picked up and the resultant line can be etched with acid. Fabric, cloth, and other materials can be pressed into the ground, and when etched and printed, their textures are faithfully replicated*.

*All definitions come from: John Ross, Clare Romano, and Tim Ross. The complete printmaker; techniques, traditions, innovations. New York: Free Press, 1990.

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