D R Y P O I N T  

Drypoint is among the oldest of the Intaglio
techniques and is recognizable by a distinct
characteristic line quality once inked and printed.

Drypoint is generally done on a copper or zinc
plate, but plexi-glass plates currently are all the
rage in many studios for this intaglio technique. It
differs from etching in that no asphaltum ground or
acid bath is required to realize the image. Using a
very sharp needle tool, the image is scratched,
varying the pressure of the needle on the plate. As
the steel needle cuts into the metal, it naturally
raises a burr on both sides of the line, much like a
furrow left behind when a field is plowed. This
raised line can easily be felt by touch and if
compounded by a network of heavy crosshatched
lines, creates a rough, toothy texture on the plate.
Such areas will produce lush, luminous dark tones
when printed on paper using an etching press.
Lines drawn with a delicate pressure will hold less
ink and so print lighter. But the significant beauty of
the drypoint line is how the burr which is made
when scratching the surface, holds ink. There are
numerous similarities to inking a drypoint plate as
with an etched plate. But after the initial stage of
removing heavy inked areas with a tarlatan rag or
cloth, the printer then uses the outer edges of the
palm of one hand softly, brushing the ink around
the burred lines of the drypoint image, gently
coaxing as much detail as desired about the plate.
With a little practice of this unique hands-on
technique, any artist can perfect a manner of wiping
a drypoint plate that works best for them. However,
one negative factor to this ancient technique
occurs, when the inked plate is put through the
pressure of the etching press, embossing the
image onto paper.
Each print begins to break down
the original line scratched into the metal, with every
pass through the press. Typically editions are
rather small and details often have to be re-worked
to maintain integrity during editioning. But this too is
part of the process and adds value to each print, as
less numbers can be generated. 
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(Click below to see
Ron Garrett's prints
in each technique)
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below of Ron Garrett's prints)
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