Many years ago, I lived in a rambling old house in Santa Barbara, California, with a generously sized claw foot bath tub. My family and I loved that tub, and each of us spent plenty of time soaking in steamy bubbles, with cups of tea and music playing in there. This little drypoint is a nod to that time, and to the simple luxury of taking a bath. 🙂
Adding pigment (in this case, watercolor) to the proof print helps me see where I need to adjust tones (darks and lights) on the plate before printing the edition.
Printing Press Options
I borrowed time on other artists’ presses for decades, until I researched, selected and saved enough for a press of my own. These days, there are many more affordable and small scale options for printing intaglio prints (drypoints, etching, mezzotints, etc) and even linocuts. You can use a small embosser, or a pasta press. I love how the creative community usually finds a workaround to solve common problems.
After going through my press, pulling a proof (test) print
After the plate is inked and wiped, you can see where the engraved lines hold ink.
Wiping the plate with crumpled, soft newsprint
Applying ink to the plate with a soft wedge of mat board, carefully, so I don’t flatten the burr that was kicked up while engraving into the plexiglass. Those tiny, rough edges bordering the rim of each gouge in the plastic will hold a feathery bit of ink, and leave a lovely mark when pressed against paper.
Mixing the two inks 50-50.
Drypoint Ink Mix Recipe
I read an article (here) about a lovely blend of two inks perfectly suited for dry point engraving, so I ordered the inks (below) and this was my first use of them. I’m happy to report that they worked very well.
After a few test-prints, more engraving to hold ink & darken areas of the print.
Engraving little canyons into the plexiglass to hold ink, using a sharp point (an etching needle).
A sketch done with a sharpie marker – loose and not too detailed. More of a map than a sketch.
Plexiglass for a Drypoint Print
Here is a tutorial video demonstrating how to bevel you plexiglass plate, using a rasp and then a sanding block. By angling the straight edge that was snapped off in the cutting process, you will ensure that you’re sharp edges don’t cut your printmaking paper under the pressure of the your press. You can read more about the process of preparing a plexiglass plate in this post.
Cutting plexiglass in the studio
Have you made a drypoint before?
So, there you have it. Step by step photos of the process to create a drypoint engraving from acrylic or plexiglass (also called perspex in other parts of the world. Have you ever made a drypoint from traditional copper plate? If you know any resources that would be helpful, please leave details in the comments so we ca all get better at printmaking together.
Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post!
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When Mark Rothko used tempera, he would follow a procedure that has existed since the Renaissance, separating dozens of eggs, and beating the whites into a consistency close to that of a soufflé. Those few friends who saw Rothko perform this rite were delighted by the bulky Balzacian figure, with large hands, delicately transferring yolk after yolk, from half shell to half shell.
While teaching at a University, and feeling isolated and far from home (New York), he participated in an exhibit. He wrote home: Two of my paintings hang here for the last three weeks. Not a word or a look from the faculty, students or the Fricks. One of them, on my first visit, I found was hung horizontally. I phoned the hanger about his error. “Oh, it was no error,” he said. “I thought it filled the space better.” I swear by the bones of Titain this is true.