A Beginner’s Guide to Drypoint Etching
Drypoint is an intaglio technique for producing prints by etching a plate, applying and wiping off ink and running through an etching press.
The printing plate can be made from metal, card or Perspex and etching the plate is like drawing without using ink. In other words, drawing with a dry point. Perspex is an easy way for beginners to start as you can place it over your drawing and trace the design. Etching needles are most commonly used but you can draw with sewing needles, nails or embossing tools and use sandpaper or wire wool to create texture and shading effects. The ink will remain in these incisions to form the print.
Once the plate has been etched, a thin layer of intaglio printing ink is applied to the plate using a scraper or brush. Using scrim and newspaper, the ink is forced into the cuts and indents that you’ve made on your plate and wiped away from the parts that you don’t want to print.
When the plate is run through an etching press, the force of the press squeezes the ink from the crevices onto the damp paper to print the image. Unfortunately, hand burnishing will never achieve this. The plate can be re-inked to make more prints.
We like using drypoint to produce prints from our own line drawings and experiment with wiping ink in different ways, inking less or more and using carborundum to produce different styles of print from the same plate. You can see plenty of examples on our Pinterest board.
If you’d like to try drypoint etching, but don’t have an etching press, come to one of our printmaking workshops in the beautiful timber barn at Slamseys Farm this summer. Our Flash Printing Day on 27th June gives you the chance to try drypoint, screen printing and lino printing in one busy day or come along for a week of fun introductory printmaking workshops on our Summer School – Introduction to Printmaking course.
Details of all our printmaking workshops are on the Slamseys website.