Get into the groove
Gustave Doré - Jacob wrestling with the angel - 1855
Click for a larger view.
also known as intaglio was once one of the only
ways to reproduce images on a large scale, and was
heavily used in the production of books and newspapers.
In this day and age, it is mainly used for its artistic
While etchings are prints, and as such reproduce the same image for a finite, numbered amount of times, each copy is inked, printed and sometimes painted over separately. Thus each etching is a unique and original piece of work.
Among famous engravers we can count
Rembrandt, Goya, Giovanni Piranesi and, of course,
Gustave Doré - though studies have shown that he was not
the author of all the works attributed to him.
|The technique, as it
is used on the Rue du Trésor, first requires the
creation of a printing plate. For starters, the metal
plate - usually copper - is covered with an acid-proof
ground (usually made out of wax, lacquer and/or
asphaltum). The artist then draws the image on the plate,
tracing the lines by removing thin stripes of ground.
Once the picture has been reproduced on the
ground layer, the plate is immersed in acid. The
corrosive substance eats away the metal not protected by
the ground, thus etching the image on the metal plate.
|Another method, called aquatint,
is used to etch surfaces instead of lines. It enables the
artist to create textures and add depht to his work.
Aquatint is a difficult process, which requires precise
timing in order to obtain even surfaces.
Once the plate is ready, the artist can print out "practice" samples, which are known as artist's proofs. This trial run usually represent 1/10th of the total print run. It is used by the artist to find the best possible colors for the main print run.
Individual prints are inked by hand
or with a small roller. The ink is pressed into the
etched grooves, while the excess ink is carefully wiped
off. Once this is done, the plate is placed on a manual
press, along with a damp sheet of paper. As the printer
activates the press, it pushes the damp paper into the
plate's groove, picking up the colored inks.
|Out comes an original
etching, ready to be numbered and signed by the artist.
All etchings sold on the Rue du Trésor are part of a
limited run - once the run is complete, the plate is
On the Rue du Trésor, fifteen artists use etching as their main mode of production: