The second in my series on print styles and this time I'm looking at the difference between an etching and an engraving, and giving a couple of examples of copper and steel engravings.
These are produced using a tool called a burin, which allows for the various tones and shadings of an artist’s work to be reproduced faithfully. Originally done on copper, the softness of the metal meant that it wore out quickly and by the early 19th century it was replaced by steel, which allowed for greater runs to be produced.
These are very similar to engravings, but are produced using acid to remove the metal, rather than cutting the surface with a tool. The surface is covered with wax and the engraver draws the picture on the wax with a needle; the acid then etches away the exposed metal. This can be done in stages, giving a more freehand appearance.
I should perhaps say at this point that although I'm trying to sound very knowledgeable, I frequently can't really tell the difference and I have to look everything up (or ask my husband, the fount of all knowledge). Still, I hope it does point up that Arcadian Prints does sell original prints.