Introduction to Intaglio - Syllabus & Schedule

Please go to this page:
Print the quiz and fill it out as you go through the syllabus.  Bring it to class with you completed.

Introduction to Intaglio

Michael Merry

Contact Info:
Studio # 218 Studio Arts Building

Office Hours:
Monday & Tuesday 1:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
If my studio door is open, as it usually is, feel free to ask questions.

Print Shop Hours:
Monday - Friday: 8:a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday: Noon to 8:pm.

You cannot work in the studio arts building after the building closes.  You cannot work in the studio arts building alone, i.e. there should be a shop monitor on the premises or you should have a friend with you.


Check out a book or buy a book on printmaking.  It must include etching / intaglio and it must include instructions.
Make sure there are some prints in your book that relate to subjects you're interested in.
If you're going to buy, a great choice for undergraduates is The Printmaking Bible.  It gives a good description and instructions for many types of printmaking.  It will serve you through just about any printmaking course you'll ever take.
If you're the type who likes to focus and develop a skill, a book from the Magical Secrets series is an excellent choice. These books focus on etching / intaglio and will serve you far beyond this class in that media.  Don't get the one on Chine Colle at this time.

Statement from the instructor:
Art courses should not merely be about completing assignments. Printmaking classes in particular can tend to focus on the basic technical skills and neglect to encourage students to develop their own interests. While this course has objectives which are important, we are going to work together to meet those objectives in a way that allows you to explore your interests. In that spirit, I am always open to suggestions and constructive criticism about the course and your interests.

Course Description: 

This course provides an introduction to basic intaglio techniques including dry point, aquatint, hard ground and soft ground.

Many people seem to think printmaking is making copies of work made in other mediums, a poster version of a painting for example.  It is not.  Printmaking is creating original works of art that exist as multiples in a set called an edition.  I.e. the work of art is not one print, it is the edition of prints.  However, there are exceptions, such as monotypes, in which an artist might use printmaking techniques to make a suite of similar but not necessarily identical prints or even just make one print.    

Learning to make prints is learning a craft and in taking printmaking courses, students often feel that the focus is entirely on technique. However, an introduction to printmaking means much more, especially now when so much of what we experience (pictures, movies, music, etc) comes in the form of multiples.  Mechanical and now digital production and reproduction has made mass produced images ubiquitous, challenging the notion of the “authentic” experience or the “original” object or even "objectness" itself. 

With this in mind, an introduction to any print media as well as the theories and ideas involved, is a course on contemporary culture.  We will explore contemporary culture through students' interests and discuss those interests via questions such as; What influence does an image have on a culture or individual? How does it influence the way we see the world? How do we create art in response? What forms will this art take? And who is the audience for this art? 

Course Objectives. Students will:
1. Create editions of prints utilizing one or more print techniques that demonstrate both technical and conceptual consideration.
2. Learn and apply different printmaking techniques and processes with proficiency.
3. Analyze and evaluate their own work and that of other students through the process of critique using terms and concepts appropriate to the medium.
4. Understand the history of printmaking as a distinctive form of art production.
5. Engage with the community of printmakers and work collaboratively toward the above objectives.  

Students will practice and apply the following desired abilities:
1. Competency in the Disciplines. Included in this genera ability: 
- Knowledge of content in prerequisite or transfer courses, as well as preparation for a career.  
- The basic principles of plate making and ink transfer.
- The basic techniques of color registration.
- The traditions and terminology of original print production and how these may be applied to the development of personal work.  
2. Literacy
Included in this general ability: skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and quantification, as well as awareness and appreciation of learning styles.
3. Critical Thinking
Included in this general ability: skills in analysis, synthesis, problem solving, decision making, creative exploration and formulating 
4. Personal and Social Responsibility
 Included in this general ability: awareness of and responsiveness to diversity and commonality among cultures, multiplicity of perspectives, ethical behaviors, and health and wellness issues. 
5. Using Resources
Included in this general ability: effective use of computers and information technology, accessing of information resources including campus resources, and awareness and appreciation of lifelong learning options.

Upon completion of this course students should be able to:
- Analyze and interpret works of art. 
- Create works of art that utilize technical understanding and an appreciation of craft. 
- Use vocabulary specific to printmaking. 
- Create works of art that utilize the elements of art and design. 
- Create works of art that utilize expressive, emotive, and aesthetic elements.

There will be 5 assignments.  They are based on following directions given via this blog and in classroom demonstrations.  Restrictions on technique are specified while subject matter and imagery is determined by the student.  

Printmaking Assessments: The student has / has not:
- Utilized the designated criteria set forth in the Assignment
- Produced a neatly, carefully and thoughtfully executed artwork.
- Visually conveyed an idea central to the student’s interests.
- Demonstrated an understanding of the elements and principles of art.
- Explored the media used in the creation of the artwork.
- Produced a consistent edition as appropriate for the project.
- Practiced safety procedures and safe handling of cutting tools, knifes and solvents.  

Journals will be due at midterm and at the end of the term.
- See Artists' Journal Assignment Page for citeria before you buy.
- Your journal should be utilized as a tool of personal investigation from life and/or imagination and a tool of study.  As such, your journal is possibly the most important aspect of this class.  In your journal you are establishing the foundations of your personal artistic direction.  

 Journals will be due at midterm and at the end of the term.

Assigned Intaglio Projects will require 5-10 out-of-class hours per week and usually nearly 200 hundred additional weekend hours to complete. 

These are all very tedious processes that take a great deal of adjusting and changing.  Although it seems like you have plenty of time to complete these assignments, you will need to be in the studio nearly every day if you want to end up with a decent print. 

Showing up for class is not enough, students are expected to:
- Read the syllabus and know what is going on.  Come to class prepared and equipped to take notes, print, and participate.  Once you have read over an assignment page and the class has had a demonstration of the process, students are expected to take the initiative to come to the shop and begin printing on their own.  The instructor should be thought of as being there to help with trouble shooting. 
- Be aware of due dates and have work ready for them.
- Exhibit good work ethic, sound craftsmanship, and consistency of effort.
- Push skill development, show initiative and overall improvement.
- Show a willingness to explore and learn beyond known limits, i.e. take chances.
- Clean work areas as you go.  If the classroom and shop spaces become disorderly in-class work time will be used for clean up.  Repeat offenders will be banned from the shop.  

The artist and instructor Paul Thek wrote to his students “Remember, I’m going to mark you, it’s my great pleasure to reward real effort, it’s my great pleasure to punish stupidity, laziness and insincerity.”  My feeling about grading is not too far from Thek's, you either did the work to you didn't. This course does require a great deal of time and work outside class, but it is a whole lot easier than, say, Calculus III.  All that's asked of you as a student is to take the class seriously and spend time developing both a thoughtful, conceptual approach to subjects that interest you and a careful, thorough approach to physically making the work.

There is no extra credit work or make up work available for this class.  However, one of the most basic aspects of being an artist is developing a thorough understanding of the materials and processes involved. With that in mind, if you buy your own materials, including your own paper, you may redo an assignment and resubmit it as many times as you like. Unfortunately, the cost of materials makes it impossible to provide students with more than one set of materials for each project.

If you simply did not turn in the assignment on time there is no way to get the late penalty points back.

Mid-term evaluations may be had upon request as a gauge for final grades and as an indicator of problems.  

If you encounter problems that keep you from successfully completing the class see the instructor as early as possible.  Other grading options are available.  

Incompletes are given in extreme situations and only if already passing.

Project Evaluation Criteria: 
There are 5 projects plus journal checks, presenting the work of an influence, and a digital portfolio.  Each of these is worth 100 points.

Each project will be scored based on the following three criteria.  These will be weighted differently for each project. 
1. Concept: 
Interpretation and application of your own interests and ideas to the assignment using expressive, emotive, and aesthetic elements.  Ask yourself “What am I trying to say with this image?”  “What is the best way to visually convey my idea?”
2. Participation: 
- Active involvement with your group or partner.  
- Putting in time in the shop.  
- Proper shop etiquette and clean up.
- Participation in discussions and critiques.
- Attendance. 
3. Process: 
- Display an understanding of the process.
- Display of craft as a priority via making an edition of consistent prints.
- General neatness of the work. 

Students can loose points on individual assignments through the following:
- Messy prints will cost you a letter grade.  
- Failure to clearly number, title, or put your name on your work will cost you a letter grade. 
- Assignments turned in after critique begins are considered one day late.   
- Late assignments will be discounted one full letter grade for each weekday late.  Be aware that no grade higher than F is possible after four weekdays have passed, or on the fifth weekday. 

Students can loose points for the semester through the following:
- Apathy.  Merely completing assignments is not enough and will earn a C or lower.  You are expected to develop an understanding of each process and to creatively problem solve technical issues. Do not give up and settle for a lesser print.  Seek help from your classmates and instructor.  Apathy will cost you on an assignment and possibly for the semester.  
- Not keeping an organized sketchbook containing clear notes and reflecting an effort to fully develop your artistic interests.  
- You are expected to complete assigned readings, participate in discussions of readings and slide lectures, work successfully with a group or partner, and participate in critique.  
- Habitually leaving the shops in disarray or showing disrespect for university property and unwillingness to adjust your behavior will cost you a letter grade on the assignment and possibly for the semester.  Repeat offenders will be banned from the shop. 
- Damaging, stealing, or interfering with the work of your fellow students will result in immediate failure of the class and in punishment to the full extent of the university's rules and regulations.  
You may be absent from this class three times.  Each absence over three will result in your grade for the semester dropping an additional letter grade.

Attendance will be taken at the beginning of class via a sign in sheet.  It is completely up to you to get your name onto the attendance sheet.  We are not going to discuss whether you came to class and forgot to sign in at a later date.   

Being physically present is not enough.  If you sleep, use the internet at inappropriate times or for non-class related purposes, talk on the phone, do coursework for other classes, listen to music on headphones, or disruptively chat with your classmates at inappropriate times; such as during lectures, demonstrations, discussions, or critiques; you will be counted absent.  Effectively, if you're not doing what the class is doing you are absent.

There are no excused absences.  If you feel you have a valid reason to have an absence excused you may go though the Office of Academic Affairs.  I agree that it is unfair to make honest people go to this trouble.  Unfortunately, lies told by lying liars have brought everyone down to this level.  

If you miss a demo due to absence I will be extremely reluctant to repeat it for your benefit.  If you believe you have a valid reason to miss a demo or critique, talk to me about it before you miss it.  Maybe we can work something out. 

Work days are not optional attendance days.  If you believe you have completed the assignment, work in your journal.  If you are ahead of the class you may find that I am willing to show you an additional technique or help you expand your project.  If you choose to slip out on work days, or any other days, I will notice, you will be counted absent, and I will be extremely reluctant to help you when you fall behind.  If you believe you have a valid reason to leave early, talk to me about it before class. 

Four absences will result in your grade for the semester dropping a full letter grade.  Thereafter, each additional absence will result in your grade for the semester dropping an additional letter grade.  Also, since there will be many demos and much of the work will be done during class time you may want to consider carefully the ramifications of missing a class.  You will likely fail the course if you miss more than three classes. 

Three tardies makes an absence. 


There will be no copying.  

The appropriation of published artwork may be acceptable for some concepts.  You must change or critique the appropriated work in some way.  Discuss your concept with me before you proceed.  Your artist's statement must relate the significance of your appropriation.

Work derived from any published source must contain somewhere on your print the following information: artist’s name, title, date, publication source and date of publication.  On the back is fine.  

You must purchase and maintain a journal.  See the Artists' Journals Assignment Page before you buy. 

There are flat files in the classroom and the print shops for you to store your materials in.  You may use half of one drawer.  Find an empty drawer or one with an old date on it.  Do not throw out any work you find in the drawers, give it to the instructor.

Some of the supplies you will need to are supplied by the university.  You'll need to purchase the rest which are listed below.

You will need to buy the following materials:
- A twisted etching needle or double point scribe.
- A scraper / burnisher.
- Four zinc etching plates.  A couple of sizes.  No smaller than 5"x7" no bigger than 8"x10".
- A sharpie.
- A 6H pencil.

The following materials are not provided.  I would buy them if I were you.
- One pad of tracing paper, minimum 8 inches on the shortest side.
- Disposable rubber gloves.  


Please be careful.  Almost every student will have small studio mishaps.  Think ahead about what you are doing and how it could go wrong.   

Many of the materials used in this class have potential hazards; their safe use and handling is important.  If you have, or develop, sensitivity to any materials, contact the instructor immediately.  

If you have any questions or qualms about any of the materials we will be using, there are Materials Safety Data Sheets in the shops.  They are in a three ring binder marked M.S.D.S. which is kept with the first-aid supplies.  I will be happy to address any questions or read through the M.S.D.S with you during office hours. 

Any student, who, because of a disabling condition, may require assistance in the event of an emergency or may require some special arrangements in order to meet the course requirements, should discuss with the instructor the nature of their needs so that the necessary accommodations can be made.

Artwork that is abandoned or uncollected at the end of the term will be ridiculed in future demonstrations, used as scrap or be thrown out.   

Course Schedule

In addition to assigned homework you are expected to spend at least an hour a day working in your journal developing concepts and images.  Click this sentence to get to the Artist's Journal assignment page.

 1/6: Go over syllabus & questions.
        Shop tour, regulations & safety, and cleaning.
        Look at prints, plates, paper and tools.  
        Take the syllabus quiz.  Bring it to class filled out and signed.
        Purchase your supplies.
        Check out a book or go buy a book on printmaking.  It must include etching / intaglio.  Preferably it will also include instructions.
        Make sure there are some prints in your book that relate to subjects you're interested in.
        If you're going to buy, a book from the Magical Secrets series is a good choice. Don't get the one on Chine Colle, we're not going to do that in this course.  

1/8: Demo: Printing. Be prepared to take notes.
       Print with old plates & cleaning up
       Start developing an image for a Metaphorical Self Portrait; an image that relates something about you without directly being an image of you.  Think about your character, your interests or things that affect your life.
       In your journal create a definition if Intaglio and a set of instructions for printing in your own words.  Leave big spaces between steps for making notes.  Bring at least two questions to class.
       In the next class you're going to start working on a drypoint and eventually print it according to your own instructions.  Use the internet.  Any instructions that make sense to you are acceptable.  Crown Point Press' Magical Secrets is a great resource and they've got videos on YouTube.  

1/13Demo: Dry Point. Modify old plates, Wiping, Printing.
HomeworkFinish up your Metaphorical self portrait image.

1/15: Shop time: work and proof.
         Have a set of Critique Steps in your journal.  You will be using them to critique and present a classmate's work.

1/20:  Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

1/22: Working Critique.  Trouble shooting.  Shop time.
Homework: Print your edition.

1/27: Critique.
         In your journal create a definition of Soft Ground etching and a set of instructions in your own words.  Remember to leave spaces for notes.  Use the internet and the library.  Bring two questions to class.

1/29: Demo: Soft Ground - prep and coat plates, look at possibilities for making an image.  Acid biting & printing.  Safety and the step test.
         By this point you should have some things in your journal that you're interested in printing.  Clean an image up.  Find materials that make sense with your image and that you can press into the soft ground.  h

2/3:  Start working plates.  Shop time.  
Homework: Print proofs. 

2/5: Working critique.  Trouble shooting.  Shop time.
Homework: Print your edition of three.  

2/10: Critique. 
Homework: Prepare for group discussion about what's in your journal, what you are interested in and why it's interesting.  Bring examples of actual things in the world as well as the work of artists who deal with subjects you're interested in.

2/12: Discuss interests and ideas in groups.  Share your journal.  Compare your prints and what was said about them.
         Rework your plate to change the image and make necessary improvements.
Homework: Work and proof your plate.

2/17: Shop time.  Trouble shooting.
Homework: Print your edition of three.
          Prepare for critique.  Have a set of Critique Steps in your journal.  You will be using them to critique and present a classmate's work.

2/19: Critique.  (Write down the names of two other students who's work has something in common with yours.)
         Brainstorm about what's in your journal.  Make two lists; one of terms that describe the subject matter of your journal and another of terms that visually describe the content of your journal.
         In your journal create a definition of Aquatint and a set of instructions in your own words.  Include what to look for on the plate.  Remember to leave spaces for notes.  Use the internet and the library.  Bring two questions to class.

2/24: Discuss interests and ideas in groups.  Share your journal.  Compare your prints and what was said about them.  Find a something that exists in all of your work/interests.  Come up with one general idea for a portfolio exchange.  Remember to specify paper size.
        Swap contact info.
         Work up an image for the exchange.

2/26: Demo: Aquatint.  The step test.
         Shop / Studio Time.

3/3: Create and print a step test.  Shop time.  Trouble Shooting.
       Sign up for one-on-one conferences.
       Work and proof your plate.
       Prepare for conferences.  You'll need your journal, your prints and your artist's statement.

3/5: Conferences.
       Shop time.  Trouble shooting.

3/10: Shop time.

3/12: Critique artist's statements.
         Shop time.  Trouble shooting.
         Work on your edition of five.

3/17: Shop Time.
         Finish your edition of five. 
         Have a set of Critique Steps in your journal.  You will be using them to critique and present a classmate's work.

3/19: Critique.  Coallate and exchange portfolios.
Homework: In your journal create a definition of Hard Ground and a set of instructions in your own words. Remember to leave spaces for notes.  Use the internet and the library.  Bring two questions to class.

3/24 - 3/28: Spring Break

3/31: Demo: hard ground.  Coat plates.
Homework: Be thinking about your final.  For your final you'll use two plates. One with aquatint and another with one or more of the processes covered this semester.  You'll print with black and one color.  Start preparing an image to print and making a plan for the plate and for printing it.

4/2: Demo: Prestretching paper and Offsetting.
       Shop time.  Rework one of your old plates using hard ground.
Homework: Print an edition of two.

4/7: Turn in hard ground prints.  No Critique.
Homework: Have a plan for creating an edition for your final.   

4/9: Shop Time.  

4/14: Working Critique. Shop Time.  

4/16: Shop Time.

Final Critique is during the allotted final time for this class.  At that time you must turn in your actual final edition, your journal and on a disc: your artist's statement along with your number one print from each project this semester.

4/25:  Digital portfolio CD's Due By 5:00 P.M.

4/28Grades posted and comments emailed.

4/30: Grades Available Online

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