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Create etched designs and images using metal plates and acid.

What does an Etcher do?

An Etcher is an Artist who performs the 500-year-old tradition of etching, which is a printmaking process involving metal, ink, and acid. While printing a picture nowadays is as easy as clicking “File” then “Print” on your computer, it was a laborious art back when Xerox and HP didn’t exist. Still beloved today, it’s kept alive by modern-day Etchers.

Here’s how it works: As an Etcher, you start with a blank metal plate — traditionally copper, although zinc and steel are also used — that you coat with wax. Using a needle, you then draw a picture in the wax. Next, you submerge the metal in acid and leave it there for several hours while the acid eats into the exposed metal, leaving grooves, marks, and textures in the shape of your picture.

At this point, you remove the plate from the acid, clean the wax off, and apply printing ink into the etched lines. When the plate is wiped clean, ink will remain inside the etching, which you then place inside a high-pressure printing press along with a piece of paper. The result: a printed picture that can be copied again and again using your metal “template.”

Although you’re most likely an Artist who sells your prints to customers and collectors, you may also be an Industrial Etcher, who uses the same basic etching techniques to manufacture circuit boards and semiconductors. Either way, you’re someone who does a lot more “between the lines” than reading!