The process of etching to create fine art began in the 1600’s.  Some of the better known etchers are Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt, Picasso and Mary Cassatt.

Etching is a process of creating a design or picture on a metal plate with the use of acid.  Plates are made of metals: zinc, copper or iron.  Beginning with a smoothly polished plate the artist covers the entire surface with an acid-resist “ground”.  Then the artist draws the design or picture into the ground with a sharp tool.  Next the plate is put into a bath of acid which etches into the plate only where the tool has scratched through the ground.  When the “bite” of the acid is deemed deep enough, the artist removes the plate from the acid and cleans off the ground with a solvent.  Then the artist inks the plate by rubbing ink into the etched lines and then wiping the surface ink off to leave the unmarked, polished surfaces of the plate clean.  The plate is then placed on the bed of a press which consists primarily of a flat bed that runs between two rollers.  Damp paper is placed over the plate and they are run through the press which presses the paper into the etched lines of the plate to transfer the ink to the paper.

An edition is a set of nearly identical prints printed from the same plate using the same ink and paper.  Each has numbers written in fraction form indicating by the bottom number how many nearly identical prints are in the entire edition and, by the top number, which number a particular print is.  For example 3/50 indicates that the print is the third in an edition that totals 50 nearly identical prints.  The top number does not indicate the sequence of printing.