Scratched Etching Plates

Being a bit of a perfectionist I have been very frustrated by the easy occurrence of scratches on printing plates which tend to show on print. When I was in foundation year I was annoyed by scratches appearing on acrylic plastic plates. I took to washing the stiff scrim for ink wiping, but still some scratches mysteriously and most annoyingly appeared.

Hauntingly the same thing happens on zinc and copper Plates even though harder than plastic. I have once again taken to washing scrim just in case but still scratches occurred. Then one day recently I was making particular movements with a piece of mount board I have always used to coat the plate with ink and behold the same pattern emerged in scratches on the plate. The piece I had been using had a particularly scratch linen finish to surface paper, but I realise on feeling the hardness of the edge of even a normal mount board can be scratchy to the surface of printing plates. It seems so obvious now but I was baffled by the constant appearance of these scratches. I am now dulling/ softening the edge of my mount board applicators with the edge of the scissors. Hope this is the end. It’s a shame no one informs you of these things before the event and that consequently and unfortunately sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

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