Traditional copperplate Etching is a type of intaglio printmaking. Intaglio is an Italian word, means "To carve", and was a known technique for armor making. The intaglio process is one of the most creative and endlessly experimental printmaking processes available with a rich history of practitioners too numerous to count. We offer services in intaglio which move from a multi stage process of drawing for and developing an image on a plate; to proofing the first trial impressions; pulling an acceptable, reproducible proof; and finally editioning the plate.

Very skilled craftspeople would cut flourishes and designs into high value steel armor as part of the decorative tradition, a bit like getting a tattoo but for your armor. Where this fits into printmaking is that supposedly the craftspeople would rub soot or ash into the armor to see what they were doing/as they were going, and wipe off the top surface. This left the soot in the engraved parts of the armor to show the drawing; the practice gave birth to the idea of rubbing ink into those designs and ultimately into taking an impression on paper.
It was only a matter of time before the technique was refined and used to pull multiple impressions of original works of art designed specifically to be engraved, but was a difficult process to understand, let alone undertake.
The printing technique was not too difficult to teach and so it spread, but engraving itself is very hard work and takes specific tools and knowledge, not to mention someone had to be willing to teach you how to do it. Artists had a hard time picking it up unless they were able to dedicate time to the skill, and with a few exceptions, most of the engraving was done by similar skilled craftspeople to armorers who were capable of engraving accurately. These engravers would 'copy' the artist's illustration to a copper plate and try to be as faithful to the drawing as they could, but the prints were not usually original, meaning executed by the hand of the artist. Rather many engravings were done 'after' an artist, meaning the plate was made by a master-engraver rather than the artist's own hand. There are exceptions to this, and some artists were first trained to engrave, worked in the field, and later made their own engravings, but this was not as common. More often than not, artists worked collaboratively (in the same way our services are offered), borrowing the expertise and setup labor from a printmaker who would offer these services under contract or agreement.
In the 1400's a technique was invented that would later revolutionize the way artists could engage with the medium of intaglio- Acid Etching. The Etching process as we know it is credited to Daniel Hopfer, and similar to engraving's own transition to printmaking, Hopfer applied the technique to armor and other weapons (some of which are still in museums in europe today, along with some of his surviving attributed prints).
Acid etching became very important in the development of artist participation because it freed up the artist's hands to be part of the process, thus increasing the originality of the print. Artists no longer had to allow another craftsperson to interpret their design into a plate, but rather were afforded the opportunity to draw directly through a 'ground' (acid resistant coating) onto a plate, which would then be immersed in a mordant and developed into an etching. The drawing would etch into the plate and create incised lines which were much more fluid, sketchy, and look less mechanical than engraving.

Etching would go on to become the main way artists would get to actually draw the images which would be printed, rather than rely on the hands of a skilled craftsman to translate the image entirely for them. This contributed to the originality of the edition, was employed extensively and many print houses in europe took up this model of collaborative printing with artists. Inviting them into the studio to play an active role in the process of imaging plates excited collectors a bit more than buying an image 'after' an artist, and so the market for prints was divided as well. All the while the industry grew, and secretive techniques were developed which were kept hidden by their inventors, the masters of this craft. Many schools of thought matured. This went on pretty strongly right up to the early 19th century when photoengraving was invented, and at some point that caused it's own explosion in the development of intaglio printmaking, all the way through postmodernism through to today when we even create intaglio prints from plastic plates and various materials that would never have been available prior to the industrial revolution.

Techniques and appearance:
Intaglio printmaking involves different techniques or combinations of techniques- etching, engraving, drypoint or aquatint- but they all share the same thing in common: the image to be printed is incised into the surface or plate through some means. Since this is different from relief printmaking, where the image to be printed is carved in reverse- you cut the negative away, and what is inked up is the surface plane of the matrix- intaglio creates a different form of image than relief.
Because intaglio printmaking techniques achieve an image by adding ink to the plate (matrix), then gently wiping away excess ink from the polished plane surface to leave the image in the sub-surface, many secondary inking techniques like surface rolls or selective inking can be applied.
The ink which is to be printed is left in the incisions due to the careful nature of the plate wiping, and then dampened paper is pressed against the inked plate under extreme pressure with soft felts. This creates a counter of the plate by deforming the paper into the incisions/low areas, and subsequently it pulls out the ink (thus the term, "Pulling a print" is used).
Intaglio prints are left with an indented/embossed surface it is usually fairly easy to identify them, but many subtle effects can be employed from a single plate including rich velvety blacks of mezzotint, the soft tonal grays of aquatints bitten in many stages through the stopout method, and even inky looking/painterly liquid effects of spit bite, white ground, and soft ground. There is even a way to make the plates resemble a pencil drawing through the use of soft ground, and the lines in this technique can be broken up into a very textured surface surface that resembles collage.

Stages and pricing:
We offer services in intaglio which move from a multi stage process of drawing for and developing an image on a plate; to proofing the first trial impressions; pulling an acceptable, reproducible proof; and finally editioning the plate.

The different stages have entirely different associated costs, but are able to be estimated out in approximate labor terms based on flat rate days and materials estimates. Projects in intaglio start at $750.00-$1000.00 and climb based on size of plate, paper type, intricacy of technique/image, and time required to edition the final print. One could easily spend many thousands of dollars on a printed project if they wished to develop a large format, complex print, or could keep it relatively simple, but it is an extremely labor intensive, skill sensitive, technical process that is simply not able to be fast-tracked or sped up in any reliable way.... You get what you pay for with intaglio.

At Haven press we stock all the tools, materials, and technical chemistry to produce hard ground etchings, aquatints, spit bites, and various other excellent techniques. We prefer to work with and exclusively provide services on copper.
We can work with you to develop and proof test strips in an exploratory manner if you would like to understand technical possibilities without making a whole plate, and provide services on an alla-cart basis. We collaborate with you all the way through the process to the finished plate- and then we produce a trial impression which is used to match the edition against. It can be a journey to get to that stage, and Etching is a very hands on process and not for those unwilling to commit to a project with a significant undertaking of labor on both the artist and the printer. We will work in close, tandem contact, passing the plate back and forth through the process of developing the image. Things will become clear as you make your way through it, and I like to say that the

Scales available:
plates as small as 3x4" and as large as 30"x40" can be produced at Haven Press.

Raw, POLISHED copper plate material costs by PLATE SIZE (excluding shipment to us):
4 x 5 "$12
6 x 9 "$27.50
8 x 10 "$44.00
9 x 12 "$57.00
12 x 18 "$109
18 x 24 "$224
24 x 36 "$385
30 x 40* $556 (*SPECIAL ORDER- Comes Unpolished and in a thinner gauge, has to be hand polished.)

Pre-Sensitized copper suitable for Negative-Working Photo Engraving:

5 x 8 "$25
8 x 10 "$50
9 x 15 "$90
16x20 "$175

Price list/rates:
$325.00 - 1/2 Day rate of platemaking (excluding consumed materials), artist on site.
(In some cases, we can prepare a plate and provide tools on loan+instructions and the artist may leave with this package, execute a drawing, and bring it back to the studio to be etched for a small additional fee.)

$425.00 - 1/2 Day rate of presswork for purposes of proofing, artist on site.

$900.00 - Full Day rate of platemaking (excluding consumed materials), artist on site.

$700.00 - full day of presswork for purposes of editioning, artist off site during editioning process.

Not included in these charges: Paper, plates, inks for use proofing are all on an as-estimated basis, and are not included in the materials costs. Inquire for a loose estimate of these costs before planning a budget for aw project, we are happy to convey soft numbers.

Included: Grounds and acids for biting plates and other technical materials stocked at the shop, tools for drawing through grounds and all press-related tools and re-usable materials are included as part of any costs.