Dry Point

Dry point is the most direct form of intaglio.  The artist simply takes a sharp point and uses it to scratch into the metal plate to create the image.  There is quite a variety of tools that can be used for this.  Here's a video of Wayne Thiebaud doing that at Crown Point Press.  As you watch it pay attention to the different ways he marks the plate, from gentle to rough and in-between.  He even seems to be scratching into it with a pocket knife at one point.

Here's Thiebaud's print.  Notice the sketchy look it has.

Crown Point Press - Wayne Thiebaud - Diagonal Ridge - Drypoint

Here's another print from another artist named Ingrid Ellison.  Again, note the sketchy lines.

Ingrid Ellision - 6"x6" copper plate etching

As a preliminary assignment we will modify one of your plates from an old print with the drypoint tools.

A plate being worked with a drypoint tool:
Green Door Printmaking .co .uk - Drypoint on Copper
Some of those lines look almost sharp.  And they kind of are.  The reason they catch the light like that is that as the drypoint tool is worked against the plate it creates a burr.  This is just like plowing a furrow into a field.  You get a groove with a tiny metal edge, a burr, sticking up along each side.  When you ink the plate the ink will go into the groove but it will also go under those metal edges that follow the groove.

This makes drypoint different from any other intaglio method.  It looks a little different but it's also very fragile.  Rough treatment will bend the bur around or even knock it off.  So, you've got to be gentle when you ink and print it.

For this assignment you will end up with three separate sets of prints.  
- An edition of three pulled from the old plate you modified.
- A suite of state prints pulled as you develop the image.
- An edition of five consistent prints.  

Before class:
- Watch some intaglio/etching videos.  Read.  Take notes.  Write down questions to ask in class.
- Develop an image to print.  
- Have in your sketchbook:
     - A description of this process in your own words.
     - A copy of the process steps.

In class:
- Your matrix for this assignment will be a copper plate.   
- Develop your image by adding and removing with the drypoint tools.  Create lines and texture using the scribe, the scraper, and / or the burnisher.  Be very careful not to push the tools toward your hands.  

As you work you will find it necessary to use different techniques to achieve different effects.  You will work the plate, print, work the plate, print, work the plate again, print again, and so on until you achieve the desired final image.  Each print represents a state.  Such a set of non-consistent prints is called a suite rather than an edition.  
Once you have the image in plate the way you want it create an edition of five consistent prints with one inch margins.  For these prints, you will use only black ink.  Don't underestimate how hard it will be to make a consistent  edition of prints.  It is hard.  Inking and printing dry points has everything to do with developing an intuitive understanding which requires printing a small mountain of them.  


Remember to bevel the edges of your plate before you begin working it.   

Remember to degrease your plate with the whiting each time you apply a ground or etch it.  If you think your plate is clean you probably need to degrease it two more times.  


- Tear several sheets of newsprint and your good paper to the correct size.  
- Tear a couple large sheets of newsprint for protecting the press bed and blankets
- Create your registration template on a sheet of newsprint. 
- Set up the press by loading it with your, registration template, protective newsprint, template, zinc plate, and blankets.  
- You should have three blankets, one thick felt blanket between two thinner wool blankets.  Make sure the blankets are not hanging over the ends or sides of the press and that they will not get into the gears. 
- Test run everything through the press and adjust the pressure.  
- Make sure there are clean enough blotters laid out to dry your paper through your whole run.  If the blotters are dirty they can transfer unwanted information onto your print.  DO NOT GET INK ON THE BLOTTERS.
- Put out enough ink to make your edition.  It won't take much.  Work the ink for about a minute to loosen it up.

- Soak your paper in the large soaking sink in the center of the shop.
     - Initial your paper on the back so there will be no confusion about which paper is whose.
     - The water needs to be warm, not hot, not cold.
     - The paper needs to soak for about a minute.  It won’t hurt to soak longer as you will be
        removing the excess water with blotters. 

- Apply a small amount of ink to your plate and work it in every direction with an inking card (A.K.A. a hunk of cardboard).  Make sure it gets into all of your lines and textures but be careful not to damage the burr.
- Scrape off as much of the extra ink as you can with your card and save it for reuse.
- Use a phone book page to remove as excess ink until you can make out your image somewhat.
- Use a tarlatan to continue wiping the plate.
- When you think the tarlatan has done it's job make the last few wipes with the fat of your hand.  At this point you're only grazing the surface of the plate to remove the ink from areas where you don't want it.  Remember, you want to leave the ink in the burr.  Just graze the plate, don't rub.

Hand wiping to be the best way to finish wiping the plate because you can literally develop a feel for how the plate should be inked.

- Your partner should take your paper from the sink and blot out the excess water with the blotters, register it and print it.  

- Take the blankets out of the press and leave them folded on top or hanging in the rack.  
- Recenter the press.  
- Clean up any ink you have left with vegetable oil and Simple Green.   
- Make sure you drained the soaking sink and didn't leave any paper in it.   
- Put any damp blotters in the drying rack.

On critique day, you will have ten minutes to get ready before we begin. 
- Make sure you have identified your prints in pencil.  Make your best print number one and the last one the print you are least satisfied with. 
- Hang number one from your edition of prints vertically centered at about sixty inches above the floor. Use a loop of tape on the back; do not put tape on the front of your print.  

This assignment will be scored based on three criteria.  These criteria will be weighted and assessed as follows:
1. Concept: 5 Points. 
Interpretation and application of your own ideas to the assignment using expressive, emotive, and aesthetic elements.  Ask yourself “What am I trying to say with this image?” “How can I visually convey my idea?”
2. Participation: 5 Points. 
Attendance, involvement with your group, putting in time in the shop, proper shop etiquette, participation in discussions and critiques. 
3. Process: 10 Points. 
Display an understanding of the process, making an edition of consistent prints, registration, and general neatness of the work. 

- The complete assignment is an edition of prints and an artist's statement.  Incomplete assignments will continue to loose points for lateness until everything is turned in.

Additionally, the following will cost you a letter grade:
- Fingerprints or smudges on your prints. 
- Failure to properly identify your prints. 
- Failure to turn in an artist's statement with your prints.
- Prints hung after critique begins will be considered one day late. 

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