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A simple technique: engraving with lavender oil

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Artist : Charlotte Reine


  • a copper plate
  • hard ball ground
  • a cloth
  • a brush
  • lavender essential oil
  • methylated spirits
  • tarlatan (if you have none, you can replace it with medical gauze), tissue paper

This engraving technique is based on drawing with a brush. It is easy and produces great results!

1. Varnishing the plate

Place the clean copper plate on a grid to heat it with a spirit lamp.

This step makes it possible to melt the hard ball ground and roll it over the plate.

Dab it with a small crumpled cotton cloth to obtain a thin even layer of varnish.

2. Drawing with lavender oil

Using a brush dipped in a little lavender essential oil, draw the motif of your choice and allow to act for a minute or two.

you can also draw with a feather to create a finer drawing.

N.B. If you want to write a text, don't forget to turn your double-sided model over, otherwise the letters will be printed backwards.

3. Developing the drawing

Carefully wipe your drawing with a cloth dampened with methylated spirits, taking care to protect the varnish.

a. Submerging in an acid bath​Protect the reverse of your plate with packaging tape, then submerge the plate in an acid bath (15 minutes for nitric acid or 30 minutes for ferric chloride).

b. Putting through the press​

Ink the plate with black ink or another colour. Wipe it with a small piece of

flat tarlatan to keep the ink in the carvings. Prolong wiping by gently rubbing a square of tissue paper over the surface of the plate.

Lastly, put through the press using the fine art paper of your choice (e.g. Canson®Barbizon) 


For an even more accurate end result, apply your varnish with a brush.