Debra James Percival  
Artist Printmaker

DebraDebra Working the Press

A Little information about Non-Toxic Printmaking

Etching on aluminum and copper plates no longer involves any acids or solvents.  All hardground and softground techniques are water based and so are the inks.  Everything cleans up with ordinary soap and water.

Etching is working a design into metal by some kind of corrosive action.

 All my copper plates are etched in a solution called the Edinburgh Etch invented by Friedhard Kiekeben.  It is a solution of Ferric Chloride and Citric Acid.  Using acrylic grounds on copper plates and etching in the Edinburgh Etch an artist can now get lines, textures and open areas cut into the metal with no sediment filling the areas. 

The bite is so good that the finest detail registers accurately on the bitten plate.


This plate was drawn on with a black permanent maker, scratched with a darning needle and then I painted over the plate with a very watered down wash of India Ink.
Etched 1 hour and the print is called "Just Listen"


                                                                       Aluminum Plates

solution testing plates

A couple of the prints from the above plates are in my Hand Pulled Gallery

This is some of my solution testing plates from aluminum etching workshops, I like to make a drawing with litho crayon or sometimes screen filler to test how a 10 minute plate etches.

 The Aluminum plates are etched in Nik Semenoff’s solution of copper sulphate, and table salt.  

Chritmas print plate flipedetched plate flipped

The first aluminum plate was painted on with acrylic stop out.  Both plates are flipped for your viewing, because everything you do on a plate will be printed in reverse.

A Prayer for the World A Prayer for the World, shadow print

This is my New years wish for the World 2008, I am praying for Peace.  It is 2015 and I am still hoping and praying!  But the prayer just gets longer and longer.

The lighter image is called a "shadow print".  There is so much ink held in the natural aquitint on the aluminum plate it is fun to print a second print without inking up again.

close up

Close up of the aluminum plate.

 What is great about both etching solutions is that there are no harmful fumes, no risk of burns to skin and clothing.  (Common Sense!  Always wear gloves and protective eye wear etc.)

Traditional printmaking mediums such as wood cut, monoprint, lino cut, collagraph and silkscreen can all be done with water based inks.

 The term Intaglio means that the image etched into a plate is filled with ink, and the surface of the plate wiped clean.

we dream of dancing plate

plate for thinking above Intaglio type is a new family of printmaking techniques that uses a  polymer film that is laminated onto a plate made of (wood, copper, aluminum or plexi glass.) that is exposed to ultraviolet light and then developed in soda ash.  The plate when dry is inked up like an etching and editioned. The transparency for the image to be exposed on the plate can be a drawing on plastic, computer halftone image, found objects or a combination all mentioned.  The medium leaves lots of creativity open for exploration.                                                                                     The plate for "Thinking Above" on the left .      

The plate for "We Dream of Dancing" on the right. 

  A great book about Intaglio type printmaking and lots more information is Keith Howard's book 

"The Contemporary Printmaker"  


Collagraph is building up a printmaking surface by gluing all kinds of textures onto it.  The plate can be printed as an intaglio or relief.

Collagraph is a big favourite of mine, you get to recycle all kinds of stuff and make a sculpture for printing on paper.

 decisions plateBubble Bubble Toil and Trouble plateDance plate

                        "Decision's" plate     "Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble's" Plate    "Dance's" plate 


There are lots of books about printmaking, however if you are working on your own the three most useful books I have worked with about non-toxic printmaking are:

1. Handbook of Non-Toxic Intaglio by Henrik Boegh

2. Polyester Plate Lithography by George Roberts

3. The Contemporary Printmaker by Keith Howard

Happy Printmaking