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2-run 2-color soft ground etching with waterbite aquatint
Covenant Trace is a direct gravure created by transferring O’Neil’s original drawing on mylar to a copper etching plate through the photogravure process. A second run used water bite, an aquatint etching technique, to make the distinctive vignetting that beckons viewers into O’Neil’s drawn world. To produce the painterly effect, which is distinctive for its subtle shift from dark to light, aquatint ground was used to paint the shape of the vignetting frame on a copper plate. Next, one side of the plate was partially submerged at a slight incline in a water bath, and a printer gradually added acid to the bath. Because acid is denser than water, in the water bite process the acid sinks to the bottom of the bath; thus, the deepest etch occurs along the bottom of the plate. A progressively lighter etch is created higher up, where acid creeps up and mingles with the water bath as a printer adds more. To produce the halo-like effect around O’Neil’s drawing, this process was repeated four times for each edge of the plate.