In this unique intaglio technique which is also called manière noire, or the black method, the plate is worked in reverse; from dark tones to light. The surface is first roughened with a mezzotint rocker so that, if inked, it would print a rich, solid black.The areas that are not to print are then burnished and flattened to produce various grays and white. The outstanding qualities of the mezzotint process is to produce the most subtle nuances of tone and value from rich, velvety blacks to glowing highlights. Because of these features, mezzotint was originally used primarily for reproducing other works of art. Although the origin of the mezzotint is not entirely known, in 18th- and 19th century England the process reached a zenith of technical perfection and popularity. Tidbit: The term “off the rocker” derives from this process; often children were employed to rock plates and the mindless, repetitive process drove some of them crazy.