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- Etching Guide and Tutorial : Soft Ground -
tool list prep plate apply ground transfer art hard ground soft ground aquatint acid bath ink and print etching tips

Soft ground is only partially acid resistant. I use soft ground to transfer fabric patters to the plate. It can also be used to create soft lines. I have not tried it, but apparently this is done by putting a piece a paper on the plate and drawing on the paper. This will push a line into the soft ground. You can also "push" fabric patterns into the ground and transfer it to the plate.

Soft ground comes in liquid and ball form and can be applied using the method referenced on this site. Try and keep the application of the ground thin and uniform.

Print Examples Using Etching Soft Ground

The jacket pattern was made with corduroy. It was done in two applications - vertically for the main part of the jacket and horizontally with 2 small pieces of fabric.

soft ground 1

The couch pattern was made using lace. The whiter area is where the ground was thick. The seat cushions are darker because I worked the area twice.

soft ground 2

The hair is done with two applications using a plastic scrub pad. The area behind the face is made with a piece of patterned fabric.

soft ground 3

Working with Etching Soft Ground: Pick a piece of textured fabric. The texture should be somewhat pronounced.

Use a clean plate with the fabric on top to adjust the pressure of your press. You want it to press the fabric texture into the soft ground - "medium pressure" - not as tight as when printing. Different thickness of fabric will require seperate press adjustments.

Cut fabric if neccessary, put it on area of plate you want the texture on, and run through the press. Put a piece of paper on top so as not to get soft ground on your felts.

Stop out the areas you dont want the texture to appear on. Remember them edges! When dry put the plate in the acid bath. The longer you expose the area to acid, the darker it will print.

It took me a lot of experimenting until I got comfortable with soft ground. Don't get frustrated! Uncle Wretch is here to help. Pictures hopefully coming soon; right now, I don't have any.

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