ARTS(E)333 Intermediate Etching, Patricia A. Cordoba, Fall 2019 | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

ARTS(E)333 Intermediate Etching, Patricia A. Cordoba, Fall 2019

This semester course will introduce the student to the basic intaglio techniques of dry point, line etching, soft ground, and aquatint. The students will explore the distinctive qualities of each technique, the potential and relationship of each technique to visual and content ideas, as well as the ways in which the techniques may be combined. While professional practice in proofing and printing is emphasized, printmaking will be presented not only as a reproductive process, but also as a medium of tremendous expressive potential in its own right.

Monotype printing will be the initial technique that will acquaint the student with the printing process and shop practice, along with being an expedient method for developing a printmaking sensibility.


The two classes per week begin by first developing a monotype print (surface printing) to learn the concept of reversed image and the importance of the press in offsetting an image from a plate to paper. The intaglio process begins with dry point on plexiglass, then the combination of monotype and dry point. The students will then move on to intaglio techniques involving the use of acid to incise the plates - line etching, soft-ground, and aquatint. By the end of the semester, each student will have used the basic techniques of intaglio in making at least 4 plates, and will print an edition. Exceptions (a tailor-made program) will be made of Intermediate students with extensive prior experience. Otherwise, Intermediate-level students with moderate experience will follow the syllabus, revisiting and sophisticating the various technical approaches indicated. 

Graduate Students
Students in MFA, MA, and Post-Bac programs are expected to complete additional assignments and to produce work at a level appropriate for students in a graduate program. They are graded accordingly and, if they successfully complete all course requirements for graduate students, receive graduate-level credit for the course.

A Reflection on Subject Matter Through the Use of Drawing

Acknowledging the use of drawing is of most importance as a base for developing your ideas in printmaking.

Knowing to observe gives a better capability to judge than knowing how to draw even though the use of drawing, still drawing, doodling, or creating "materia" to enrich surfaces with different techniques adds value to the process that printmaking requires.

“The map is not the territory, each of us designs different maps of the same territory. Through human history in time maps are created by moment in moment, on the basis of our level of attention, of our needs and motivations.” (Di Napoli)

"To each way of thinking corresponds a way of seeing.” (Di Napoli)

That is why the use of the sketchbook is a must. It will be of great help for students to develop their own ideas that would help translate them into the plates.

It is of the utmost importance to give due consideration as to the subject-matter you will be working with during the course at SACI. The investigation doesn’t necessarily imply an intellectual approach. The investigation may be a sensorial (of the senses) one.

Visiting Museums and On-Site Locations

During the course we will visit places to enrich students' projects:

  • Fondazione Marino Marini in Pistoia
  • Museo Marino Marini in Florence
  • Morandi Museum in Bologna
  • Boboli Gardens in Florence

Sketches, watercolors and other sources will be accumulated on-site.

Students will be encouraged to go on their own to the “Specola” museum in Florence.


Week 1

Tuesday, September 10
Monotypes: used as an introduction to the practical and technical aspects of the medium. Several approaches will be outlined such as series development using the “ghost” image, multiple passage procedures, and traditional image procedure.

Thursday September 12
Continue monotype image development.

Week 2

Tuesday, September 17
Monotype to Dry point on plexiglass: presented initially as a drawing (mass to line), the project helps the student establish criteria for the integration of formal issues with those of content and technique. Students are asked to do three versions of the same image: a pure monotype image, a pure dry point image, and a combination of monotype and dry point image.

Thursday, September 19
Continuation of monotype, drypoint, and combined techniques image making.

Week 3

Tuesday, September 24
Dry point.

Thursday, September 26
Continuation of working with drypoint.

Week 4

Tuesday, October 1
Hard ground - Line Etching: Bring a drawing made with ballpoint pen. Stages of biting, The language of line. Spontaneity in relation to deliberation. Direct observation and process.

Thursday, October 3
Line Etching.

Week 5

Tuesday, October 8
Acquatint: tone and texture. Addition and subtraction of information on the plate. Re-visit the line etching. Add aquatint if applicable, or develop another plate beginning with aquatint, and then intervening with line etching.

Thursday, October 10

Week 6

Tuesday, October 15
Bring a drawing made with pencil, preferable a soft pencil (4b).

It is a particularly useful practice to work on more than one plate during class. It is useful for practical reasons (i.e., while the ground on one plate is drying you are putting the other one in the acid), but also in the way you are able to compare and evaluate the development of your imagery.

Thursday, October 17
Shop time.

Week 7

Tuesday, October 22
Combination of Techniques: students are encouraged to consciously weigh technical decisions in relation to their image ideas, choosing the most appropriate technique or process (or combination of techniques) for the images they have in mind. “Making” and “Finding.”

Thursday, October 24
A lineup of all work done up to this point.



Week 8

MIDTERM BREAK (October 26 - November 3)



Week 9

Tuesday, November 5
Wrap up any “unfinished business.” Consider suggestions and criticism from critique before the break.

Thursday, November 7
Further Technical Demonstrations. Techniques not yet presented and variations of techniques already demonstrated will be presented as optional information for the students - Spit-biting, sugar lift, etc.

Group Discussion.

Week 10

Tuesday, November 12
From this point on, alternate between continued development of imagery on the various plates.

Thursday, November 14
Shop time, or onsite work.

Week 11

Tuesday, November 19
Shop time.

Thursday, November 21
Shop time.

Week 12

Tuesday, November 26
Work in progress line-up.

Thursday, November 28
Shop or onsite work.

Week 13

Tuesday, December 3
Shop time. Printing editions of the plates they have been developing.

Thursday, December 5
Shop time.

Week 14

Tuesday, December 10
Shop time.

Wednesday, December 12
Shop time.

Week 15

Tuesday, December 17
Final Group and Individual Critique. Students must present a portfolio including the first three monotype images, the line-etching and the soft-ground with the use of aquatint (or the optional aquatint plate), the combined techniques plate, and the Final plate. A selection of proofs which can testify to the development of the images can be helpful as well. One of the plates should be chosen in order to make a small edition of ten. All prints should be well printed with proper margins, and on quality paper.

Thursday, December 19
Individual Critiques continued


Materials for Etching



Etching Needles (one large, one small)

Punte per incisione

Zinc plates (different sizes)

Lastre di zinco

1 scraper and burnisher

Raschietto e Brunitoio

Thin sandpaper for metal numbers 1000, 800, 400, 200

Carta spoltiglio numeri 1000, 800, 400, 200

Etching paper (Fabriano, and/or Grafia, white or natural)

Carta per incisione


Quaderno per schizzi

Portfolio case (50x70cm)

Cartella (50 X 70cm)

Transparent insert (50x70cm)

Busta trasparente (50 X 70cm)

Transparent plastic texturized adhesive

Plastica adesiva trasparente rugosa

Masking tape

Nastro adesivo di carta


General Safety in the Printmaking Area

The following health and safety guidelines have been prepared for students and instructors using the printmaking area. Please read the rules carefully. Your full cooperation is necessary in order ensure your own safety and that of others. Keeping the printmaking area clean and organized prevents unnecessary hazards, and keeps the printmaking equipment in good working order.

  • Wear appropriate clothing. Wear the gloves and plastic aprons supplied by SACI when you use solvents, acids, chemicals.
  • Wear enclosed footwear at all times. Sandals, flip-flops or bare feet are not acceptable alternatives.
  • Tie back or cover hair when using printmaking equipment.
  • Never work alone.
  • Always wear appropriate personal protection when required.
  • Never use printmaking equipment until you have had adequate instruction.
  • Never use printmaking equipment under the influence of any drug or alcohol.
  • Never eat, drink or smoke in the printmaking area.
  • Reseal containers after use. Do not muddle them up or put a substance in an incorrectly labelled container.
  • Always clean up after yourself.
  • Do not put any liquids in the sink except for water.
  • Wear a protective mask when you use the acquatint box.
  • Do not block emergency exits
  • Ensure you have enough room to work safely
  • 15 minutes before class ends, all students should begin to put things away and clean up the work area. This includes putting away plates and other equipment.

Spills, Slips, and Falls
You can reduce the risk of slips and falls by

  • Wearing appropriate footwear
  • Cleaning up any spills (report any spills to the instructor)
  • Making sure computer cords don't run across aisles

First-Aid Kit
There is a first-aid kit inside the printmaking studio.

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