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Old 06-06-2019, 03:09 PM
shrimp_lass_ shrimp_lass_ is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 3
Etching issue troubleshooting for newbie

Hi everyone,

I am a digital artist new to etching and I have been having one problem, chronically, over the past couple months. Inside my etched lines there are bubbles, and sometimes the lines look almost completely hollow. I am self taught, so it is definitely something I am doing. Can anyone help?

Attached are some pics of the issue, under a magnifying glass.

The bubbles/hollows are in different places each print, so it seems to be an issue not with my plates, but with applying the ink or wetting the paper or with the way I press.


My process is as follows:

prepare the plate. I don't think I need to go into this because i dont think the problem is here.

Ink the plate. I use oil based ink specifically for etching. I work the ink for a while before I use it, apply with a card or a roller, remove all I can with the card, and remove more with circular motions with tarlatan. I have tried both linseed to loosen ink and magcarb to stiffen it and neither helps. What does help is if I leave a TON of ink on, more than I want, but it still happens in places.

I use newsprint for preliminary proofs, and arches 88 specifically for printmaking....weirdly, it comes out better on the newsprint. I soak the newsprint no longer than 5 minutes, or it will tear. I soak arches 88 for about an hour. squeegee, and blot with paper and a rolling pin.

I use presses specifically for printing. Two are automatic and one is manual, same problem on all. I put the plate face up and lay wet, blotted, paper over it. I always go pretty much as tight as I can. Two thick blankets and one thin one.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Attached Images
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Old 06-07-2019, 12:05 PM
blackandwhite blackandwhite is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 113
Re: Etching issue troubleshooting for newbie

Have you tried using a stiff rubber spatula/scraper to "massage" the ink to the plate lines?
It helped when I had similar issues. Inking dabber/tampon/ball (or whatever it is called) will also help to get the ink to the lines.
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Old 06-07-2019, 03:00 PM
BeLing BeLing is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 493
Re: Etching issue troubleshooting for newbie

There isn't enough ink in the grooves.

After you ink up, you need to scrub with the "dirty" tarlaton to force the ink into every tiny groove. Don't think of removing ink yet, not until the plate is really loaded.

Then with a cleaner cloth start to remove just the surface ink. That is, wipe but without so much force. On new plates that usually carry a lot of tone, I might finish with a paper towel over the rag bundle, so it doesn't pick up ink from the lines (or not much). I don't use additives, or talc.

Also, check the press pressure. The sizing catcher blanket (thin one) should be next to the paper and soft enough to compress into the lines of the plate. Keep adding pressure until it "nips" in. Maybe more than what you've been using. Unfortunately, I don't think newsprint is good for proofing because sufficient pressure will probably dissolve it! Use a cheaper, but still for-etching, paper.

Keep at it!
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Old 06-07-2019, 07:31 PM
shrimp_lass_ shrimp_lass_ is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 3
Re: Etching issue troubleshooting for newbie

Thank you both for your responses! I will try these tonight. I'll get some pics of the plate itself under magnifying glass too if I think of it.
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