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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Etching - Reworking Ground

[Etching]  [Dry-Point (pointe-seche)]  [Preparing The Plate For Acid]  [Drawing On The Plate]  [Biting The Plate]  [Reworking Ground]  [Soft Ground]  [Aquatint]  [Mezzotint]  [A First Experiment In Etching] 

( Originally Published 1917 )

Should you find, as is very probable, that some parts of the etching require more work to bring out the desired effect, proceed in one of two ways: either by putting in dry-point or by re-etching, as follows: The plate is first carefully cleaned with turpentine, ammonia, whiting and water. Then melt some of the etching ground and rub into the lines with a bit of printing muslin. This protects the lines already bitten. Put on a ground with the dabber, or you can go over it with a roller, and remove any extra ground by passing the roller over another heated plate. Go over the surface until the ground is even. Do not smoke. The old work will show through this ground.

Instead of using the roller with the hot plate clean off as much of the ground as possible from the surface with a pad of linen rag, lightly folded. Let the plate cool and put a roller ground on in the usual way. This is the method recommended by Sir Frank Short.


The rebiting is for the purpose of deepening any lines which may have come out too light. Use a paste ground made of the ordinary etching ground dissolved in spike oil of lavender. Some of this paste should be spread on a clean piece of plate glass or an extra plate and gone over many times with a leather roller until the paste is evenly distributed on the roller. Then roll over the plate to be rebitten a number of times in every direction, employing no more pressure than the weight of the roller. The plate should now be in the same condition as before removing the ground. That is, the surface of the plate is covered with a ground and the lines are free to receive further biting. You must heat the plate until it shines, to drive off the oil of lavender. A little practise will enable you to get this result. Some etchers fill the lines first with whiting and rub off with chamois. This is not necessary, however.

The most important thing is to clean the plate thoroughly before applying the ground and have the plate and roller free from dust. Don't smoke a rebiting ground, because the heat may cause the shallow lines to fill up. If the plate is irregular on the surface the roller cannot be used. It is then necessary to use the dabber. This is a very delicate operation and requires much practise to succeed.

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