ART CARE Information by Etching House
This Information is provided by Etching House only as a courtesy to assist in how best to care for your Art Work be they Prints, Etching prints, Giclee Digital Prints, Oil Paintings, Water Colour Paintings, Silkscreen prints, Collagraph prints, Lithographic prints, Wood block prints, Photograph Prints, fine art works on paper, Framing and hanging of artworks.
At all times seek professional advice where needed.
Receiving, unpacking or handling of your artwork, Do not unpack or handle unframed artwork yourself once received, art unframed is very fragile and can be damaged easily if mishandled, the unpacking and handling should be left to your professional archival framer who should at all times use white cotton gloves while touching the artwork. Rolled prints or paintings should be unpacked very carefully and should be allowed to relax over a period of 24 to 48 hours before being flattened and handled. The artwork should not be flattened instantly or re rolled in the opposite direction, mishandling of any kind will cause cracking, creasing or irreparable damage, artwork is very fragile when unframed.
Note, Every piece of artwork supplied from Etching House has been checked carefully at the point of creation, at the point of signing by the artist, and checked and photographed before being packed for shipping, only the best packing materials and shipping methods are used for shipping art work around the world. For international shipments Etching House has a special custom made export pack.
Use a professional archival Framer, Its best to use a professional archival framer who is experienced in Museum standard methods of framing techniques and who uses only quality archival framing materials.
Using the correct materials for your framing, it’s important to discuss with your framer your intended hanging location and environment, this will help your framer determine optimal materials to use and provide the best general advice.
Australia has a very harsh sunlight, be it our skin, a sofa, carpet, blinds, curtains, soft furnishings, even the paint on cars is vulnerable, therefore with Art of any type should only be placed in an environment that avoids any direct or strong indirect light, be it natural or artificial, avoid extreme heat or cold, your professional framer can best advise on this.
When framing it’s important that the correct combination of quality archival materials is used. This is to balance the Ph of materials, also, if a work of art is incorrectly framed or hung in an unacceptable location or environment it could over a period of time damage your artwork due to such things like mould, foxing (industry term) from humidity or dampness, mount burn due to incompatible materials or excessive UV rays, or fading over time from excessive UV light.
Servicing your artwork-framing, Yes servicing your framing and artwork is real, its best to have your artwork checked from time to time by your framer, example dust build up on the back of the frame can create mould over time, excessive heat or cold may cause unwanted condensation to occur or de-lamination of the sealing tape on backing material allowing humidity dust and bugs to access the artwork.
Hanging your artwork, It is important to understand the type of wall material the artwork will be hung on. The weight and safe positioning of your artwork is important to consider, your framer or picture hanging service can help advise on this, there are many professional picture hanging services available. It’s recommended to use these services especially if hanging heavy or larger works and if hanging in a difficult location, this is for safety reasons as well as insurance purposes and for the protection of your artwork.
Insuring your artwork, Insurance is entirely a personal choice, its best to discuss all matters with your Insurance provider.
UV Non reflective glass, has its place and is very good in many circumstances, a few years ago it wasn’t that popular as it muted the appearance of the etchings and prints as well as original water colour art work. Today there has been some great improvements in this area and some specific brands of non-reflective UV protecting glass are superb, the real question is considering the level of reflections versus the premium costs but the real benefit is UV protection. We suggest discussing this with your professional framer, they may provide you with more detailed up to date information, currently we are hearing excellent results with the genuine product referred to as ART GLASS, speak to your archival framer about this.
UV alternatives, Acrylic has varying levels of UV protection based on grade and specifications, in some cases its impractical to use glass due to the size and weight, in this case Museum standard Acrylic should be considered.
Normal Glass, Plain standard picture framing glass offers little UV protection and no reflective elimination.
Important Note – The content of this ART CARE segment in the ETCHING HOUSE web site is our opinion based on our experience and is shared only as general information that may assist customers in evaluating for themselves the best way to care and protect their artwork. It is recommended you discuss all areas of care, framing and safe placement of your artwork with a professional framer and picture hanging service.
Additional general information,
Museums and cultural institutions have carefully monitored lighting and use no windows at all to make sure all their artworks are protected from dreaded UV rays, hanging your artwork at home doesn’t have to be so much of a chore!
UV causes fading to furnishings, flooring, carpets, curtains, even paint on cars etc, and can also cause the art materials such as oil on canvas paintings, or works on paper to become brittle or fade.
Canvasses should be hung out of direct or indirect sunlight, this means that when you’re thinking of where to hang your art, observe at different times through the day and see if a beam of sunlight is going to pass across the spot you’re thinking of hanging your artwork. Using a professional picture hanging service can often be of help and in cases safer.
Do not frame artworks on canvas under glass, because canvas needs to breathe, if it is framed under glass you may trap moisture inside the frame. Canvases experience small, subtle shifts over time due to mild atmospheric changes, so it is best to leave them without glass to allow them to flow with these slight changes.
Do not cover artworks with plastic for long periods of time. If there is humidity in the air, they may start to grow mould.
Works on paper if not handled or treated correctly are more vulnerable to fading, etching prints, silkscreen prints, lithographs prints, collagraph prints, giclee prints, digital prints, original water colour paintings, this is why when you are getting works framed, it’s important to understand –
Wrap your artwork well if you plan to transport it. If you don’t feel confident there are many professional art courier services available.
Educating yourself about how to protect your artwork is one of the wisest things you will ever do if you plan to continue collecting and investing in art.
Wall Art – Keep your artworks out of direct or indirect sunlight. Your artwork might have a protective layer of varnish, but it is still possible for it to crack or fade if subjected to bright sunlight.
Do not lean anything against the surface of a canvas, Objects near a painting may not seem sharp enough to pierce the canvas, but it is always surprising what will cause a scratch or a tear.
Prevent accidents and store your artworks away from anything that might press against the surface. Try not to lean artworks on one another when storing them. Separate them with pieces of cardboard to avoid damage. Store artwork off the floor especially cold concrete floors.
Dust your artworks with a clean, soft rag occasionally to prevent dust build up. Don’t use cleaning products or water.
Hang your artworks away from very busy and possibly messy areas to avoid possible accidents and damage.
Over time, artworks can accumulate a thin layer of dust and pollutants, airborne grime from cooking oils, particles from smoking and insect specks. If there is a place to display your art away from these things, or where it will be somewhat less exposed try to position it there.
Avoid subjecting your artworks to extreme changes in atmosphere. Avoid excessive dryness, humidity, heat or cold. All of these conditions can affect the state of your artwork in a negative way (canvas puckering, paint cracking, etc.).
Damaged Art Work, if your artwork does get damaged, don’t try to fix it yourself. Take it to the place of purchase for a referral or look up a qualified conservator on your own. Amateur repairs can reduce the value of your artwork drastically.
Check the condition of your artworks periodically. Many people put up an artwork and forget about it, until they notice that it has been damaged. If an artwork is fading or cracking, a brief peek at it can prompt you to move it to a better place and avoid damaging it further.
Artworks on Paper –
When taking care of fine art or art prints created on paper there are a few points specifically for preserving your artwork on paper.
Keep your artwork out of direct or indirect sunlight as it may cause fading. Where possible its best to use quality archival UV glass or acrylic.
Avoid extreme heat, dryness, artificial light, direct or indirect sunlight as over time this may result in fading and paper may become brittle and reach a point where it simply crumbles to the touch.
Frame under non-glare glass, treated with a coating to protect the work from UV sunlight if possible. This not only helps protect your artwork from UV sunlight, the non-glare glass makes it easier to see the artwork surface when it is displayed.
The mat surround and backing of your frame should be made of acid free paper and finished with acid free tape. This is to avoid any moisture reaching your artwork and damaging it.
It is important to use only professionally a qualified framer experienced in archival framing. Avoid low cost poster framing techniques or services.
Additional information and explanations
UV Low Reflective Acrylic. A low-reflective UV acrylic provides the ultimate glazing protection for picture framing, providing high UV protection with minimal reflection.
Due to its lightweight and shatterproof nature, along with its anti-static properties, it is ideal for pastels and charcoal art work needing protection from ultra violet light and a non-reflective finish. It is for this reason that it is used in museums and art galleries worldwide.
Clear glass. Clear float glass is the most common choice of glass for picture framing due to its availability and low cost. Clear glass will protect against dust and marks but provides no ultra-violet (UV) protection. Clear plain glass is used for reproduction prints, posters and artwork of little value or importance.
UV Conservation Clear Glass – Clear Conservation UV glass is used to protect art and objects of importance from fading when framed. The UV glass we use cuts out up to 99% of ultra violet light, protecting your valuable artwork from UV light fading. It is often recommended using UV conservation glass when the artwork being framed is important, valuable or irreplaceable.
UV Non-Reflective glass – Non-reflective Conservation UV glass has the same ultra violet protective properties as clear Conservation UV glass with the addition of an etched side to diffuse reflection. It is often recommended using non-reflective UV conservation glass when the artwork being framed is important, valuable or irreplaceable and is likely to be hung on a wall with reflective light.
Museum glass – Museum glass is the premium glass that offers up to 95% UV protection and less than 1% reflection. Museum glass has the highest brightness and contrast levels available and an optical coating for true colour transmission. In fact, it’s near invisible! This premium museum glass is ideal for dimensional and object framing or when framing is spaced away from the glass, providing a non-reflective finish.
GLOSSARY PRINTING TERMS FROM “THE CRAFT and ART OF ETCHINGS as FINE ART” by Norman Lindsay
As etching appears to be a lost art today and the public interested in art must have very little knowledge of its technical problems, it may be advisable to explain this as briefly as possible.
A highly-polished copper plate is first cleaned with caustic soda and dilute nitric acid. A hand grip is then attached to it, as the plate must not be touched once it is cleaned. It is then held face up over a gas or oil burner till warmed sufficiently to melt the etching ground. The ground is a composition of bitumen, which, through a covering of fine silk, is rubbed over the surface of the copper in a thin coating. A pad, called a dabber, made of white kid padded with cotton wool, is dabbed forcibly over the ground, spreading it thinly and evenly over the surface of the copper. It must be perfectly smooth and even or it is liable to lift from the copper in the acid. The smoke, but not the flame, alone must touch the ground, or it is liable to be burned and so crack off under the acid. The ground is blackened so that the copper line will shine through it when the design is drawn on the copper with a needle point. The preparation of the plate requires considerable experience before it can be done efficiently.
The next operation is to transfer the design in outline to the blackened ground. An effective method of achieving this transfer is to blacken a sheet of tissue paper with soft lead pencil to act as a carbon copying paper. This is placed over the plate and the pencil design for the etching pinned over it and traced lightly with the etching needle. The plate is then ready to be needled.
As the hand must never touch the ground, a support is placed across the plate for the hand. If a very delicate technique is necessary it must be drawn under a magnifying glass of about a four-inch focus. This enforces an extremely cramped posture on the etcher while working on a plate.
There are various methods of needling a plate, too involved to be discussed in a brief note such as this. The method employed in the etchings here has been to etch out the fine grey tones first, and by a series of re-etching to add the half-tones and blacks. The etching itself is done by placing the plate in a solution of dilute nitric acid which bites only into the parts of the copper exposed by the needling. While in the acid it is carefully timed by the etcher, and this is the most anxious problem he has to face, for if he miscalculates he may either under-etch or over-etch the passage in the acid, and thereby ruin the result of a week or more of careful work in needling the design. No amount of experience can give him assurance over his timing. He may have got a hard copper which etches slowly or a soft one which etches too quickly. The acid is constantly weakening as it works on the plate, and he must keep adding fresh acid to try and keep it at an even strength. Having no means of testing its strength, he must trust to luck or cunning on equal terms to get the result he wants, and he can only be sure of that by wiping off the ground and taking a proof of the plate. If the result is a failure he has no resource but to discard the plate and start all over again with a fresh one. If the result of the first proofing is satisfactory he re cleans and re grounds the plate and sets about working on the next section to be etched, and so on, proving and re grounding as he goes till the plate is finally completed. If the technique employed is one dealing with delicate tones and elaborate detail he may be a couple of months over one plate; and that he may discard finally if dissatisfied with its lack of the quality he has sought to achieve. It may be said of the etchings that their average is of one accepted to two discarded.
Hahnemühle Water colour Paper preferred to often as Rag Paper,
Etching House information on Hahnemühle Water colour Paper used for John Olsen Fine art prints,
Hahnemühle Traditional Artist Papers are produced according to old recipes using high quality raw materials and pure spring water. Hahnemühle combines centuries of experience with modern innovation and artists inspiration since 1584.
Water colours are fascinating because of their brilliant colours that appear to barely tint the paper with apparent ease.
The easily flowing colours allow gently graded washes in the painting.
Water colour painting offers an inexpensive introduction to a creative activity because it requires few painting utensils and is easy to handle.
Crucial for the quality of a painting is the surface texture of the water colour paper. Here one must distinguish between torchon, rough, extra rough, matte and satiny. The more exacting the technical painting demands, the more robust the paper surface must be. Inexpensive papers are made from 100% pulp, high quality and fine papers are made from 100% cotton rag. There are also water colour papers made from 50% rag and 50% pulp.
Water plays the major role in water colour painting. Colours applied to white paper using a lot of water allow the paper to reflect through. Small amounts of colour applied in thin and transparent layers display an intense brilliance when using high quality pigments.
A la poupee, A la poupee: a pad or cloth is used to apply printers ink to the printing surface. This can be applied over the entire surface or to various parts of the plate.
Aquatint, Textures and tonal areas can be created by die use of aquatint, a technique where the metal plate is dusted with a fine resin. The plate is positioned horizontally inside an aquatint box, and then a dust storm is created inside the box. Resin particles fall onto the plate evenly and are then fused onto the plate by applying heat to its underside. Those parts of the plate where a tone is not required are covered with acid resist. Tar or varnish can then be painted onto the plate as the artist creates die image. The plate is then immersed in acid, which bites the exposed surface for varying lengths of time depending upon the depending upon the depth of tone required. Because this process can be used to block-in whole tonal masses resembling wash or water colours, it is often combined with Sugar lift,
Sugar lift, The image is drawn onto die plate using a water-soluble solution containing sugar. Then the plate is covered with an acid resist ground and placed in a water bath, during this process the artist’s lines dissolve, which allows the acid to bite into the image.
Suite, Is a series of prints by the same artist, or a group of artists perhaps working around a single theme?
Re strike, This is a reprinting of a plate, usually posthumously, and is therefore neither numbered nor signed.
Cancellation print, Following completion of die edition the plate, stone or stencil is defaced so it cannot be identically printed again. Lithographic stones are usually ground down; silkscreen stencils are cleaned for reuse of the screen. Etching plates and wood and lino cut blocks can be scored from corner to corner, or have holes drilled in them, an impression is then made and this is called a ‘cancellation print’.
Chop, This is a metal, wooden or rubber stamp, which is pressed onto the paper leaving an embossed image and usually on the lower right hand side. It signifies the identity of the artist, workshop, printer, dealer, publisher or collector. Each printer and publisher has their own distinctive chop which proves where the work was created and who published it.
Intaglio, The Italian word intaglio meaning incising or engraving is used today to describe numerous processes of cutting into a surface, usually metal. Intaglio is a printing technique where ink is rubbed into the marks on the plate. The plate is then rolled under pressure through a press, which prints the ink onto the paper. Intaglio is the exact opposite of relief printing where the printing part of the plate (or block) is raised and the non-printing part cut away. Intaglio techniques include etching, mezzotint, dry point, soft-ground etching, hard ground etching, aquatint, stipple engraving, engraving and variations and combinations of each.
Lithography, A print is created when the artist draws onto a porous limestone or zinc plate with a greasy material. Oil based inks are then applied with a roller; ink adheres to the greasy image (lithographic crayon, or a greasy ink called tusche) and is repelled by the damp areas. Paper is then applied to the stone or plate using a press to transfer the design. Lithography is capable of infinitely varied effects of colour, tone and transparency. The final lithograph is often printed from a number of plates or stones, one for each colour.
Dry point, This process is similar to engraving, yet done in such a manner as to leave a ‘burr’ beside each line. When printed, this burr leaves a soft blurred impression and usually wears down quickly (depending upon the skill of the printer) during the editioning process. Hence the practice of collectors wanting a dry point that is ‘low in die edition’ before the burr wears off.
Engraving, It is a process where the surface being used to create the image is incised or inscribed using any hard tool, like a burin, steel needle, spike, or an electric engraving instrument. These grooves or lines are then inked up, and printed under pressure. No acid is used in engraving.
Etching, Etching is the controlled erosion of the surface of a copper, zinc or steel plate usually by acid. First die plate is covered with an acid resist ground such as bitumen or wax. The design is then drawn into die ground with a sharp implement (etching needle, burin or scraper) to expose die metal below. When the artist has drawn through the coated plate it is immersed in an acid bath. The longer the plate is left in the acid the deeper the lines become. A hard ground etching is when the artist draws through a hard coated surface on die plate. A soft ground etching is when the artist draws with a pencil or crayon over a piece of paper which covers a soft coating on the plate. The next step requires die inking and wiping of the plate (as in engraving) so that die ink remains only in the etched lines. It is then printed under pressure onto dampened paper leaving around its edges an embossed plate mark or cuvette.
Hors commerce (H/C), These are usually printed with (but outside) the edition and are used to show die trade, for display, or to sell from. Hence they often show signs of excessive handling. They are marked lower left, beneath the image,
Mezzotint, In place of an engraver’s burin, the artist uses a spiked wheel called a roulette to traverse the areas of the printing plate he or she wants to print black. The rocker, a tool with a convex under surface covered with a multitude of fine hard metal teeth, can be rocked side-to-side across the entire surface of the plate. The plate is first roughed with a rocker, and if printed at this stage would register an overall velvety black. The image is then created by burnishing away the minute barbs left by the rocker, resulting in an infinite range of graduating tonal transitions, working from black to white.
Proof trial, This is an impression taken while the artist is working on a plate, stone or screen to see how the image looks. They are usually marked T/P at the lower left beneath the image, and are outside die edition. Because they show how the artist works by revealing the print in an unfinished state, they are considered unique – and therefore highly valued by col-lectors.
Aquatint, soap ground, Is when the artist paints die plate with a liquid soap solution instead of tar or varnish? The soap solution, like the tar or varnish, protects die painted image on die plate from the acid.
Aquatint, spit bite, Is when the artist bites the plate unevenly by painting acid over the aquatint surface? This gives the final work on paper a washed water-colour look.
Bon a tirer (BAT), Before a publisher starts printing an edition the artist will mark the proof BAT, or Bon a tirer, as the image that die printer uses as a guide for the edition. It is marked Bon a tirer (French for ‘good to pull’) or abbre¬viated to Bon or BAT in die lower left, beneath the image. These remain the property of die print workshop.
Burnishing, The artist uses a burnishing tool to polish a plate’s surface, to either remove lines or make corrections.
Cancellation print, Following completion of die edition the plate, stone or stencil is defaced so it cannot be identically printed again. Lidiographic stones are usually ground down; silkscreen stencils are cleaned for reuse of the screen. Etching plates and wood and lino cut blocks can be scored from corner to corner, or have holes drilled in them, an impression is then made and this is called a ‘cancellation print’.
Edition, The total number of identical prints decided by the artist that she or he has decided to make from the plate, stone or screen is called die edition, and is matched to die Bon a tirer (BAT) Edition, special (S/E)
During the process of making die plates the artist may be particularly pleased with an in-state proof and choose to run a small edition of it before working the plate to another stage. This short edition constitutes a ‘special edition’ and is numbered with Roman numerals to differentiate it from the final edition, e.g. Vl/X. Otherwise, it can be a previously editioned plate taken to another stage by die artist, perhaps in another colour as a commemorative edition. It differs from a re strike as it done under the artist’s supervision and is signed and numbered.
Artist proof is a work for the artist to keep for private use, and should not exceed 10% of die edition. During the editioning process there is occasionally (depending on the skill of die master printer) a small percentage of prints that vary slightly to the BAT. They may be perfect in every way except the plate tone may be darker, or lighter, or the registration of the plate on die paper may be out, and these usually make up die A/Ps.
Proof printer’s (P/P), It is customary for the master printer to retain one or two prints (depending on the size of the edition) for him or herself. These are marked P/P at the lower left under the image.
Proof state (S/P) Sometime known as in-state proofs, they are designated at lower left, beneath die image, as S/P, or simply ‘state’ and are taken after each stage of the print is completed. Technically, this term includes trial proofs (T/Ps), however in practice it is usually an either/or usage, governed by die number of plates and stages involved.
Giclee, The term originates from the French meaning ‘to spray’ and uses a inkjet colour application and digital colour separation. Giclee is a computer controlled, fine art print making process. It uses particles of very fine sprayed ink, about 15 microns in size which is four times smaller than a human hair. The microscopic jet-stream spray is applied simultaneously to the paper and is controlled by a crystal frequency. The print is then coated with layers of waterproof U.V. varnishes. The result is a fine art print with flawless colour reproduction and extraordinary consistency. Giclee today really means any high quality ink-jet print and is often used in galleries and print shops to denote such prints, many iconic artists are using this process to day as a means of distributing very affordable iconic works of art, it is important to have proper authenticity at all times with these works.
Another take on the process of Etching
Etching is the method of engraving using acid on a metal surface. It is also a printmaking method wherein the image is carved into a surface of a metal plate with the use of an acid. This acid bores into the metal surface, and leaves behind rough areas or lines if the surface is too narrow.
Etching is a process which is believed to have started in Augsburg, Germany, by Daniel Hopfer who used the technology in armour making. Later on, the method was applied to printmaking.
The metal plate used in etching is usually copper or zinc, which has a thin coating of resin that is resistant to acid. This coating can also be made of some waxy material. The metal plates are usually smoked so that the engravings and lines become clearly visible through the resin. A sharp tool then scratches the metal and exposes it without actually penetrating it.
As the etching design is completed, the plate is immersed in an acidic solution that attacks the exposed metal parts. During this process, called a bath, the plate is immersed, but frequently removed until the lines are etched to their satisfactory depth.
A coating varnish is then applied to stop the acid from attacking the metal surface further. In this process, the lines which were exposed to the acids longer get the darker prints. Other etchers also apply the acids directly on the plate’s surface.
In printmaking; however, the varnish is removed, and the plate is coated with ink after being warmed or heated. The ink is then wiped carefully so that enough amounts remain the etched depressions. A soft, moist paper is then used to cover the plate, and ran through an etching press.
There is a wide range of modifications in etching techniques. Some etchers modify their products by removing undesired lines. They do this by burnishing or by modifying the original state of the plate after their trial print.
Prints appear differently in various stages, and only a few first prints can be made out of a single plate. Etchers also destroy these plates after making a number of prints.
Several methods of etching produce different effects. Soft-ground etching looks like a pencil drawing, while aquatint produces an effect similar to wash drawing. Aquatint is usually used in combination with hard-ground etching.
Pictorial etching, which evolved from burin engraving also originated from Germany, where artists etched on iron as the earliest example of this delicate form of art.
Nowadays, the popular methods of etching are wet and dry etching. Wet etching is a simple method that requires a container or bin with a solution that is meant to dissolve the metal used.
The downside of this process is that it needs a mask to selectively etch the plate, and one has to find a mask that will not dissolve in the prepared solution. This process is fairly suitable for etching on thin films.
Dry etching, is divided into three classes, namely, reactive ion etching (RIE), sputter etching, and vapour phase etching. Several gases are introduced in the RIE method, where plasma is mixed in the gas to break gas molecules into ions. The ions are then accelerated and start reacting to the metal surface.
Sputter etching is similar to RIE, but without the reactive ions. Vapour phase method is the simplest dry etching technique. In this method, the metal plate is placed inside a chamber, where gases are introduced. The design is then dissolved at the metal surface by the chemical reaction with the gas molecules.
The most popular vapour phase etching techniques are silicon dioxide etching (uses hydrogen fluoride) and silicon etching (uses xenon diflouride).