Friday, May 7, 2010

the somnolence

3'' x 9''

so what is drypoint? well, its a really old form of printmaking like etching and engraving (called intaglio). how does it work? well, like this:

first, you wanna get yourself a copper plate. without getting too anal about the details, you prep the plate by sanding, filing, and polishing until its nice and smooth. then you need a really sharp scratching tool. steel needles were traditionally used, but i have a diamond-tipped needle attached to a wooden stylus (fancy word for stick).

you basically draw your image by directly scratching it onto the plate. this is pretty tricky to get the hang of at first because you cant really see what youre doing. it takes thousands of little scratches to shade an area in, and until you make a test print you wont be sure how dark an area will be. the problem with making a lot of test prints is that every time a plate is run through a press it wears the image out a little bit. this is why printers began numbering their print editions. the earlier the print, the better the image. drypoint plates wear out the fastest, so this print has only two artist's proofs (sometimes labeled test prints) and one final print.

to make a print you have to ink up the plate. first, though, you have to mix up your ink to the desired color and add some wiping compound and linseed oil. then you delicately apply the ink with a tarlatan (fancy word for crusty cheese cloth). if you rub too hard you will damage the plate. different hand-wiping techniques can greatly add to the unique characteristics of every individual print.

now your ready to print. wet and blot your paper, place it on the plate, and run it through an etching press. and thats it in a nut shell. also, please ignore the girl in the photos, i promised her i wouldnt use them.

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