Our Processes

Wingate Studio focuses on copper plate intaglio etching, and specializes in aquatint as a means of creating fields of color. We ink the plates and wipe them by hand according to traditional techniques. We encourage artists to experiment within and beyond the bounds of intaglio etching when working in the studio with our master printers. Our studio is set up to flow from the aquatint and etching rooms, then to the inking and plate wiping room, next to the printing and press room, and finally to the print dryer and paper storage room. Our main etching press is a motorized Le Deuil that once belonged to famed printmaker Aldo Crommelynck, and traveled from his studio in Paris, France to ours in the ’90’s. Wingate Studio is also home to a wood shop and french tool press that can accommodate both monoprinting and woodcuts. We have a band saw for hand cutting plates, as well as access to a high-tech water jet facility that enables us to cut larger plates into specific shapes. Continue below for more detailed descriptions of processes regularly used during projects at Wingate Studio.

Overview of Copper Plate Processes

from left to right: soap ground, sugar lift, spit bite, mezzotint, aquatint step bite, roulette, soft ground, engraving, hard ground, dry point

Aquatint with Step Biting

Aquatint is an intaglio etching technique in which a copper plate is dusted with fine rosin then melted in an aquatint oven to create a physical dot matrix on the plate. The melted rosin resists acid, while the exposed plate reacts with acid and is eaten away. The longer an aquatinted plate sits in an acid bath, the deeper the acid eats away at the copper. The deeper the pits, the more ink the plate can hold, yielding a darker color. The image below shows a plate that has been etched from 30 seconds on the left to 10 minutes on the right.


Three different examples of 4-step aquatints overlaid to proof for color combinations. Wingate Studio uses these color matrices to figure out how to achieve specific colors when creating multiple plate aquatint etchings.


Artist uses a metal tool to rub down the aquatint on the plate so that it will hold less or no ink. This process enables the artist to create smooth highlights.

Chine Collé

Fine handmade paper is coated on one side with traditional Japanese wheat paste then left to dry. Just before printing, the coated sheet is activated by placing in a damp pack. To adhere, the paper is sent through the press between the backing sheet and copper plate. This process is traditionally used to place a sheet of fine handmade paper such as gampi behind an image to pick up the finest details from a plate, and can be used in many ways such as for collage (in order below: cream colored sheet behind image, light blue sheet behind image cut in shape of dress, collage).

Hard Ground

A hard ground resist is applied to a copper plate. The artist draws through the hard ground, then the plate is etched in an acid bath giving a fine black line, as shown here for Walton Ford’s Pestvogel etching.

Soap Ground

The artist paints directly onto an aquatinted copper plate with a soap ground solution, which is tactile and dimensional, and leads to a malleable and unpredictable mark. The plate is then etched in an acid bath.

Soft Ground

An aquatinted plate is coated with a soft ground resist, then a piece of paper is placed on to of the plate. The artist draws on the paper, and wherever the pencil touches the paper, it lifts the soft ground off the plate. When the plate is placed in the acid bath to be etched, those areas where the soft ground has been lifted are etched, giving a pencil-like mark.

Spit Bite

The artist paints directly onto an aquatinted plate with acid yielding a washy, watercolor-like mark. The longer the acid sits on the plate, the darker the mark.

Sugar Lift

The artist paints directly onto an aquatinted copper plate with a sugar lift solution to create a direct, painterly mark. The plate is then covered in a covering ground and left to dry. Once dry, the plate is rinsed with water, and the sugar solution lifts off the plate revealing the artist’s mark, which is then etched.

Water Bite

An aquatinted plate is submerged in a tray of water at an angle. Acid is poured along the bottom edge of the plate in regular intervals, allowing the acid to slowly crawl up the plate and create a seamless etch from dark to light.