Drypoint Etching Intaglio Prints from Life Memories
This little Drypoint etching is a nod to a time when my siblings and I lived in a rambling old house in Santa Barbara, California. We had one luxury; a generously sized claw foot bath tub under a sunny window in our single bathroom.
We loved that bathtub. Each of us spent languid time soaking in sun-dappled bubbles, with cups of tea and music. That chapter of my history set up a life long appreciation for the simple luxury of taking a bath. So, I wanted to make a Drypoint, based on a photo I have of my little sister taking a bubble bath in that excellent tub.
Using Plexiglass or Plastic for Intaglio Drypoint Prints
Drypoint printmaking is a very old intaglio printmaking method. Plates were traditionally incised on copper or metal – and they are still made that way. But you can use everything from plexiglass and mylar to recycled produce containers to make an etched printmaking plate. (<—See examples here.)
In this demo, I’m engraving a Drypoint print on a sheet of plexiglass purchased online. I used a cork-backed straight edge ruler, and a utility knife to score the material, and then snapped the plate along the score line to make smaller pieces.
Printing Press Options
I borrowed time on other artists’ presses for decades. Eventually, I researched, saved, and selected a press of my own.
These days, there are many more affordable and small scale options for printing intaglio prints (drypoints, etching, mezzotints, etc).
There’s a very active group on Facebook called Craft Press Printmakers, where everyone in the group has altered a craft machine, like a stenciler, or embosser to make small prints. There’s another group called Printhackers, with lots of research into small press alternatives. I recommend both groups if you’re looking to get a small press alternative to make prints from your kitchen counter or dining room table. It can be done very effectively.
Drypoint Print Ink Mix Recipe
I read a master print shop article (here) about a lovely blend of two inks perfectly suited for dry point engraving. After ordering the inks (below) – this was my first test print with the mix. I *loved* them. The viscosity of the ink printed every line in the Drypoint. If you’re looking for a drypoint ink blend, I recommend this one. It’s oil based, so you’ll either need solvents to clean up, or vegetable oil and dish soap.
Plexiglass for a Drypoint Print
Here is a tutorial video (below) demonstrating how to bevel your plexiglass plate, using a rasp and a sanding block.
By angling the hard corner edge that was snapped off in the plate-cutting process, you’ll ensure that your sharp edges don’t cut your printmaking paper or your blankets under the pressure of your press.
You can read more about the process of preparing a plexiglass plate to use watercolor, water soluble crayons and adding a bevel in this post.
Have You Made a Drypoint Print Before?
Now you have 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.
Take a look at this playlist of Drypoint print from plexiglass plate tutorials on my YouTube channel for more details.
Under each video window, you’ll find a Show More link (see the screen shot below) to expand the description, and there’s a supply list with links to help you find the things you need to make a Drypoint.
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 can all get better at printmaking together.
Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post!
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Finding the Show More Details in a YouTube Video
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 Titian this is true.The Legacy of Mark Rothko – Lee Seldes