Tracing Process On Metal

We call the attention of metal engravers to this process. It is well

known that wood engravers have their original designs photographed on the

block in order to save considerable time by not making the drawing

themselves; moreover the cost is nominal, so to say, and the copy more

true and perfect than it can be done by hand. Why should not the copper

engraver and the aquafortist avail themselves of the same advantages? A
r /> few do it secretly, no doubt, but the generality not knowing the process,

or, if so, not having tried it, think it is not possible or that it may

spoil their plates. This is an error. It can be done and very easily by

adhering to the following instructions:

Dissolve 2 parts of ammonium bichromate in 100 parts of water, and in this

let soak for an hour or so 10 parts of Coignet's best gelatine, then

dissolve on a water bath, filter through flannel, and the solution is

ready for use.

Before being coated, the plate should necessarily be cleaned free from

oxidation and greasy matters. This is done by immersing the plate for a

few moments in a warm solution of common potash, then rinsing and rubbing

it with chalk moistened with a little water, when after rinsing again and

draining the plate should be immediately prepared.

To spread the gelatine solution in an even and thin layer, a tournette is

employed. The most simple consists of a round wooden stick of which the

upper part is carved in the form of a cup with an edge, or rim, about one

quarter of an inch broad. On this rim is melted some gutta-percha, upon

which the plate is pressed into contact and adhers quite firmly when the

gutta-percha is solidified. The stick is perforated at the lower end and

revolves on an iron pivot fixed at the bottom of the support, being held

in the opening on the platform of the same, as shown in the diagram on the

following page.

The plate being fastened to the tournette, the warm gelatine solution is

flowed over it and spread to the edges by means of a glass rod or a piece

of cardboard, avoiding air bubbles. This done the tournette is set into

motion, and when the film is equalized, which is done in a moment, the

plate is detached, placed on a leveled stand and slowly dried with the

spirit lamp.

[A Tournette]

By a good light the exposure on the shade does not exceed twenty minutes

with a pretty intense transparency, and should be regulated with a

photometer. When the insulation is sufficient, the image is slightly

visible, and should be so. The plate is then bordered with banking wax

and bitten-in with a solution of ferric chloride at 45 deg. Baume, or--

Ferric chloride, crystal 20 parts

Hydrochloric acid 1 part

Water 100 parts

The parts of the gelatine film the most acted on are impermeable, so to

say, and consequently do not allow the etching fluid to penetrate to the

copper; while those the least impressed are permeated according as to

their degree of insolation, Therefore, when the ferric chloride solution

is poured upon the film and carefelly brushed over with a soft brush, in a

few moments the image progressively appears, the deep blacks first, then

the half tints, and lastly the most delicate details, the whole requiring

but a few minutes. It is now that the etching action should be stopped by

washing under the tap. However, should by excess of exposure, or any

other cause, the details not appear within five or six minutes, the ferric

chloride should nevertheless be washed off, for then it may find its way

under the film and the plate would be spoiled. After washing the gelatine

is dissolved in a solution of potash, etc., when the image would be found

slightly engraved.

Should the image be in half-tints, it would be advisable to apply a grain

of rosin on the gelatine film just before etching. To engrave on steel

the operations are the same, but on its removal from the printing frame

the plate should be soaked with water renewed several times until the

bichromate is washed off. The film is then dried spontaneously and

afterwards flowed for about two minutes with the Solution A, then, this

being thrown away, with the Solution B, which is allowed to act for a

similar period.

A. Nitric acid, pure 120 parts

Silver nitrate 6 parts

Alcohol, 95 deg 50 parts

Water 75 parts

B. Nitric acid, pure 5 parts

Alcohol, 95 deg 40 parts

Water 60 parts