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WPA Collection: Graphic Arts Processes


Aquatint - An Intaglio Process

         Market by LeRoy William Flint
                Aquatint, 9" x 7 1/8"

The aquatint graphic process is a method of biting tones instead of lines, thus producing rich, deep, velvety, dark tones as well as delicate transparent tints. The tones resemble water color washes which accounts for the name, aqua or water tint. The process differs from line etching or soft ground in that the ground laid does not protect the plate entirely from the acid. The method usually used for obtaining this porous ground is to raise an asphaltum or resin dust in a confined space, and then allowing it to settle on the surface of the plate. Specially constructed dust boxes are used for this purpose. After the plate is dusted it is placed over a heater which melts the particles of dust until they adhere firmly to the copper plate.

If the grounded plate were placed in the bath without stopping out, the acid would attack the metal between the protecting particles of ground, forming solid tone, the depth of which would depend on the depth of the biting. It follows then that if one wanted a pure white it must be stopped out before the first immersion in the acid. The next lightest tone is stopped out and it is put into the acid bath again. Dipping in the acid and stopping out is alternated until all tones on the plate are accommodated. Aquatint, rarely used by itself, is often combined with soft ground, etching, drypoint, pen process, and other mediums.

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