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Engravings vs. Etchings

How are they similar?

Both engravings and etchings are printmaking techniques involving drawing onto a metal plate. When the work on the plate is complete, the plate is inked and printed on paper thus producing a mirror-image of the original design.

How do they differ?

For engravings, the artist uses a stylus to draw directly, often very precisely, onto the plate. For etchings, the artist sketches onto the plate, then applies an acid bath to further deepen and broaden (etch) the original lines.

As a result, engravings have crisper, narrower lines and etchings have broader, fuzzier ones.

Why do engravings and etchings sometimes appear faint and imprecise?

The quality of the printed image depends on when it was struck (printed). Earlier impressions show more detail because the plate is new. As the plate is used (and reused) it wears and the quality of the image deteriorates.

What is their purpose?

Like all multiples, engravings and etchings evolved as a democratization of art bringing an image to a much wider audience than the one who would see--or could purchase--a unique, original artwork.

View etchings by Sigmund Abeles & Bill Murphy
for sale in
BIDDINGTON'S Contemporary Art Gallery.

Sigmund Abeles working on etching plate


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