Hayfield at Night
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Etching is an intaglio printing process. A metal plate is covered with a protective, acid-resistant wax ground. The artist then draws the image in the wax with a stylus, exposing the metal. The plate is then placed in an acid bath, which corrodes the exposed areas and creates furrows and troughs that will hold the ink. The depth of the etched lines is controlled by the strength of the acid and the amount of time the plate is exposed to it. After the ground is cleaned off, the etched plate is inked and printed in the same manner as an engraving.
Colours in an etching may be achieved by using a different etched plate for each colour or by using a method called “à la poupée”. In Vicki’s case, she uses “à la poupée” (literally, "with the doll") where two or more inks of different colors are selectively applied to different parts of a single copperplate. The inked plate is then printed in a single pass through the press. This means that each inking will be slightly (and possible, significantly) different if the artist chooses to change or enhance colours. The method takes its name from the poupée (doll), the small ball-shaped wad of fabric that is used to ink the plate.