In 1986 Island International created Black Raven Press, through careful study of traditional printmaking techniques and application of modern processes the studio was developed as an educational/production studio. In the studio, Island International Artists has created a casual and relaxed atmosphere for their artists. By providing a professional staff and fully-equipped studios, Black Raven supports the creative process of their individual artists. The printers have spent their lives perfecting innovative etching techniques, helping artists produce high quality etchings while still maintaining the hands-on, old-world integrity and craftsmanship. The artists that Island International Artists represent embody the style and methods of nearly every kind of artistic interest and endeavor. From technical illustrators to abstract expressionists, from realists to surrealists. Artists come to Black Raven to pursue the time honored art of intaglio. The varied images that they produce speak to the complexity of the creative spirit as well as the nurturing environment provided by the studio. In the spirit of the traditional atelier, artists and printers collaborate in intensely concentrated sessions, which allow both growth and expansion of their respective art.
We recently have made changes to our plate developing process. The first change we made is that we have shifted from etching zinc plates to copper. Second, we are now etching our plates with an Edinburgh etch solution instead of nitric acid. The mixture of the new etching bath is made from Ferric Chloride (iron + salt) and food grade citric acid, it is an improvement over straight ferric chloride which has deficiencies in etching metals. The main advantage to using this new process is that it uses an electro-chemical reaction instead of a chemical reaction, this eliminates the gassing of the plate while it is being etched, which is a known hazard to artists using the acid etch process.
Third, we are now using non-toxic acrylic stop outs and grounds to protect the plate when it is being etched. The older materials were volatile petroleum based liquids. The advantages over older processes are related to artist safety. Most are water or alcohol based so are much less hazardous to artists using them.