After making arrangements to study etching with Eric Thomson at the Santa Fe Etching Club at Argos Gallery/Studio in Santa Fe, I showed up for my first lesson expecting just a brief history of etching and printmaking. I got that and much more.
Eric, having just given me a brief explanation of the different kinds of intaglio print techniques, told me to make a drawing so we could make a “soft ground” etching. After about 30 seconds of thoughtful contemplation and panic I traced the shape of a business card on the drawing paper Eric gave me and sketched a female figure (top-left).
Next I traced the image onto tracing paper (top-right), which I placed on top of a copper plate that we prepared and covered with a very thin “soft ground” wax coating. I then retraced the image, through the tracing paper, onto the prepared copper plate. The copper plate was placed in an acid solution for 30 minutes, which etched the image into the copper where pencil pressure had been applied. We prepared a sheet of paper (soaked it in water), cleaned the copper plate (bottom-left), inked it, placed the prepared paper and plate on the press, and printed my first ever etching (bottom-right).
Just one afternoon of etching and I’m hooked.
And I learned a valuable lesson: Don't go to an etching studio without a drawing or two. You just never know if a chance to make an etching will happen or not.