C. C. Barton 

Fine Art


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The Etching Process


An etching is produced today in much the same way as it was when Rembrandt brought the medium to such a state of perfection.  It is a hand worked process that takes time to complete, and the finished product ~ hand-pulled and watercolored by hand, is an original work of art with all the intrinsic value the word "original" implies.  I limit my editions in order to maintain the highest intaglio print quality, as well as to offer you artwork with enduring value.  Matting and framing is of the highest quality, to museum standards, and is chosen carefully for each etching.

The traditional etching method begins with a copper or zinc plate, coated with an acid resistant wax.  The drawing is done with a needle, which cuts through the wax, exposing the metal plate.  When the plate is immersed in an acid bath, the acid 'etches' a line where the metal is exposed while the waxed areas are protected. The length of time a line is bitten determines how deep it is and subsequently, how light or dark it will reproduce.  The deeper the line, the more ink it will hold and the darker it will print.  When the acid process is completed, the wax is removed and ink is applied. The bitten lines will hold the ink while the rest of the plate is wiped to achieve the effect the artist wants.  A dampened piece of acid-free paper is placed over the plate and run by hand through a flatbed press under great pressure (I use a Griffin Series EO-2  shown above) which transfers the image to paper. 

More recently, the process of solar etching has evolved, which is my personal method of choice in creating an etching plate.  This technique requires the use of a thin steel plate covered with a layer of photo emulsion.  The intaglio, or etching plate, is created by laying a transparency made from original drawing over the UV sensitive plate, placing it in the sun or under special UV lights for controlled exposure and subsequently developing it in water.  The process of inking and wiping the plate must be repeated for each etching, as in the traditional method using a copper plate.  For my work, I then hand watercolor, sign and number each etching with the impression number over the total number of prints in the edition (Example: 35/100).  This is used to ensure the truly limited quality of the numbered pieces. The final step for me is to emboss the paper next to my signature with my personal chop.