Hogarth and the World of Prints: Technical Details

Laying the asphaltum on the shiny plate
Step 2 Plate Preparation: Laying the asphaltum on the shiny plate
Imperfections are removed from the surface of the plate by scraping around unwanted marks, creating a level area of scratches which are then burnished to a smooth, uniform surface. Last, the plate is polished until shiny with metal polish; in Hogarthıs time, plates were polished with powders such as flour emery, fine crocus, or rotten stone. The etching process begins by coating the polished and degreased plate with a ground of liquid asphaltum. In the eighteenth century, the asphaltum was composed of Greek pitch or burgundy pitch, Rosin, and nut or linseed oil. A ball of solid ground wrapped in porous silk was placed on a heated plate. As it melted, a dabber (silk pad) was used to spread the melting ground across the plate. The solid ground was blackened with smoke from candles.
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