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Why I Love Etching

A Report by Current LPW AiR Kate Da’Casto

Inking an etching plate Etching by Kate Da Casto

I have chosen to focus my energies into etching as my main medium because it has the most wonderful portmanteau of techniques within it.

I have not become bored of etching in over seven years of practice as there is always a new challenge and a new element to master.

I have worked with hard and soft ground etching, photo etching, aquatint, chine-collé and etching onto zinc as well as other non-traditional materials but there are many more things that I wish to learn and enjoy.

I enjoy the technical side to etching – the rigour of the process and attention to detail. At etching’s core is a traditional drawing element, and I have surprised myself with how increasingly this appeals to me – it has allowed my drawing to become more confident, my hand more sure and my belief in the expression of my own line more fully realised.

My gods are Goya, Dürer, Paula Rego and Kiki Smith – all absolute masters of their fields. To achieve anything like their spine-tingling imaginings is a remote dream, but nevertheless keeps me patient yet full of ambition that I can bring forth my desires in this medium.

What most people do not know is how gentle and forgiving etching is. There are so many ways to recover mistakes and to ‘play’ with plates during the process of making. I can make my plates as slowly as I like and return to them as and when I wish, forming a real relationship with the image and what I am trying to say. There is no pressure and even the physical act of mark making is gentle, conducive and relaxing.

There is a rhythm in making and printing that I find comforting – times of stillness, of action, tension and always, always of hope… that this is the time it all comes together, that this proof will be the one.

The technical challenges drive me forward, make me strive harder and have revealed a boundless curiosity and determination that I didn’t realise I had in me. I wonder if I will ever get to a place when I feel it is’ done’ – etching always seems to have something more to offer, another facet and a deeper way of expressing itself…endlessly adaptable and durable, etching is my voice.

- Kate Da’Casto, March 2014

Want to learn etching yourself?

Kate is teaching a four week introduction to etching course at LPW from Tuesday 1st March – Tuesday 22nd March, from 6pm – 9pm each evening. You will learn how to prepare and draw a plate, how to add tone and etch, then to ink and print. There is plenty of time to learn and develop during this course and Kate will also divulge some of her best practice tips and ways to recover mistakes to further assist your learning. Book here

Learn more

Read more about Kate’s LPW residency here

Francisco Goya

Report in the NY Times
Rare prints

Albrecht Dürer

Table of Dürer engravings
Dürer at the British Museum

Paula Rego

Paula Rego at Abbot Hall Art Gallery
The Guardian interview
Paula Rego at Casa Das Historias

Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith at MOMA
Kiki Smith’s Printmaking Process Video

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