“Intaglio (/ɪnˈtæli.oʊ/ in-TAL-ee-oh) is the family of printing and printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, and the incised line or sunken area holds the ink. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface or matrix, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or mezzotint.”
Like lithography, intaglio also utilizes a bit of chemistry to create your image — acid! When creating an etching, after polishing your plate a ground is applied that repels acid. Using your tools, you remove the ground, exposing the copper and creating a Positive line. When etching your plate (making the image elements stick), you use Ferric or Nitric acid to eat away the copper where you’ve left it exposed to the acid, thus creating a valley in the plate that will hold ink. The longer the exposure to acid, the deeper and therefore darker the line.
Here are brief explanations of a few intaglio processes that I use in my work:
Drypoint – The artist makes marks in the plate directly onto the surface and prints from that surface. Uses no acid.
Aquatint – a form of etching, where a layer of melted powdered rosin coats the plate surface, allowing for the development of tones. Uses acid.
Spit bite – a technique of aquatint wherein acid is applied free-hand onto the plate
Soap ground – a technique of aquatint wherein a soapy mixture is applied to the coated plate, repelling the acid during etch and leaving an uneven tone.
à la poupée – a technique used during printing where multiple colors of ink are applied to a single plate
Below is a gallery of images from my intaglio portfolio. (More to come!)