Wednesday 10 July 2019

Drypoint Printmaking

I've had a few days off work this week so I thought I'd dig out my etching press and do a little bit of printmaking!

I decided to have a go at some drypoint printmaking as its very quick and immediate. Drypoint is where the image is scratched into the printing plate using a "drypoint" creating a line and also producing a burr, which is a rough ridge on the plate that prints a slightly ragged line, these lines hold the ink when printed and produce a rich velvety texture.

I found the drypoint needle that I was given while at university and 26 years later it still works absolutely fine! Whilst at university we used to use aluminium plates for drypoint printmaking from the commercial printers that were below us but nowadays I use Rhenalon plates which are very thin perspex sheets and as these are transparent I can put an image underneath the plate and use it as a guide while I am working on the plate.

You can just about see the scratches on the printing plate below with the image I am working on underneath.

And the printing plate scratched into and ready to be printed below. Its very hard to see some of the lines and sometimes easier to just run our nail over them to gauge the depth.

Now for the messy bit! I use the Caligo safe-wash etching ink straight from the tube as it needs to be quite thick to stay in the lines and cover the whole of the printing plate with it. 

I then wipe the printing plate with newspaper and then tissue paper to remove the surface ink but being really careful to leave the ink within the lines. Caressing the printing plate as my University tutor always used to say!

Then onto my etching press with slightly dampened paper on top of the printing plate and once under the rollers the big reveal as the paper is lifted off! 

This can be the slightly scary part as drypoint printing plates are very fragile and can only really be printed a few times as the process of going through the printing press flattens the lines and dulls the prints. I tend to do mine in editions of 6 so each print really counts.

The finished prints hot off the printing press! 
Ring Tailed Lemur & Baby - Drypoint Limited Edition Print

Tiger - Drypoint Limited Edition Print
Clare xx

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