Love; copperplate: etching
"Love" - freshly dyed copperplate

A fleeting impression is the freshly dyed copper plate before printing.


A nostalgic look back at the beginnings:

The first study of the 'art of etching' goes back to my time at ATELIER 17 in Aachen between 1976 and 1984. In ATELIER 17, insiders of the scene of that time will remember well, the young autodidacts Harald Düring, Helmut Lynen von Berg and I worked with old techniques and preferably small formats. Here is a small nostalgic impression from the work in the studio with pictures, which I showed in a lecture on etching in 1980.

"How could it happen" - Template
"How could it happen" - Template


More than 40 years I have been working on the 'art of etching'. This "old" graphic technique fascinates me to this day and I appreciate the manifold, experimental possibilities to express myself in it. I do not see etching as a purely technical medium for reproduction, but as a means of creating a contemporary art, which I would like to consciously oppose against the modern artistic media. Here I illustrate the steps from the template to the printstick. The working process begins with the idea of the theme as an image template, the original, e.g. as a drawing or watercolor.



pressure stick (section)
pressure stick (section)

The next step, the template is transferred to the metal plate (pressure stick, e.g. copper, brass or zinc) by suitable means, depending on which of the various sub-techniques of gravure printing is to be applied, for example:

  • Direct editing / drawing / cracking into the plate, without etching process"Cold needle", i.E. results in a hard line etching „Dry Point“,
  • Drawing / cracking into a covering etching base, etching in salt or acid, leading to more accurate fine lines in etching
  • Copying the motif on a covering of finely distributed grain of asphalt or collophonium, in stages etching with further covering, "Aquatint" manner, allows discrete shades of grey or colour
  • Complete roughening of the plate surface by means of e.g. "Wiegeeisen" and polishing out or scraping the brightness levels; "Mezzotinto"-manner, scrap art, allows softly intersected surfaces or grayscales
  • Tracing the motif into a soft etching-base, etching,„Vernis mou“, leads to soft lines similar to a lead or chalk drawing
"How could it happen?" - Aquatint - Art print on hand-made paper (section)
"How could it happen?" - Aquatint - Art print on hand-made paper (section)

The above list shows the many artistic possibilities, which, however, only become finally visible at the result of the next step: washing the paint onto the plate, polishing the surface and printing on e. g. hand-made paper in the gravure press. With the exception of monochrome rod etchings, the painterly processing of the printing stick, especially in Aquatint and Mezzotinto, opens up great artistic freedoms. Accordingly, the papers, as they are only subtracted by myself, are to be seen as unique. They are printed in small runs.