Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An experiment in separation

I have found that when I etch, the plate that I'm etching heats up to a point where the toner flakes off the plate, leaving the copper underneath exposed. This evening, I decided to try and change this. in the past, I have put the two plates very close to each other, about a centimetre apart. While this positioning means that it only takes about twenty minutes to etch a plate, I think it contributes to the heat.

Anyway, I transferred this picture onto a piece of copper, and put it into the etching tank. The picture was from the front cover of the first issue of this magazine.
But this time, instead of putting the two plate really close together, I put them on opposite sides of the tank. Because the resistance would be much higher, I knew I would have to leave it for a lot longer than normal. I put it on at 15 volts, and between 1 and 1.25 amps, and came back 50 minutes later to check it and turn it off, as I was leaving the house to ferry lurkers around town.

When I got home again, I turned it back on again, and got to tinkering around the workshop. Another 50 odd minutes later, I turned it off, this time for good. Not as much toner had fallen off as in previous attempts. Success! I got a nice gradation of depths, deeper in the wider lines, shallower in the narrower. Then I cleaned it off, and inked it. Here's what it looks like.

One thing that I have noticed with using magazine pages for toner transfer, is that parts of the image from the magazine sometimes transfer too.You can see this above and to the left of the bird. So sometimes, my etchings end up with words etched into the background and other things like that. At some point, I will attempt a different paper.


  1. i didnt know you did copper etchings... cos my dad has a whole studio devoted to that stuff (He's a printmaker) and also teaches it at ANU, and ive never actually known someone else who does it..

  2. Does he do electrolytic or acid etching?