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July 4, 2017 / betweenstops

Dry point intaglio printing

“Would you like to come up and see my etchings?”


I draw daily. I have been drawing my entire life. I pick up a pen or pencil and draw on a piece of paper. Sometimes I photograph it and print it or post it on social media. I often draw (and paint) on the iPad. Quick and easy. No paper, no pencil, no photography. I can print the image in minutes. I can print hundreds of images in minutes. I can even blow up the thing 3×4 feet and print it in minutes. No big deal.

Not so with etching! Haha! Took me 3 hours to prepare a zinc plate 6×8 inches! First I must bevel and file all the edges, using the metal tool to get rid of the sharp metal edge (which would otherwise rip the blanket on the printing press). Then I spend a couple hours polishing the metal until it shines like a mirror. It is an activity requiring enough effort to make my arm sore the next day. All of this activity is equivalent to opening the iPad or grabbing a piece of paper.

Next, metal tool on now shiny metal surface, I scratch in my drawing. Believe it or not, that’s the easy part!

Once the drawing is done, I ink up the plate. This also takes forever and has to be done “just so”. I want to take the oil base ink off the clear places but keep it in the drawn lines. It is one of the messiest things I’ve ever done. Gloves are discouraged because at one point I use the natural oil of my hand in the final wiping of the plate. Finally I print.


Amazingly enough after all that work a dry point plate will yield TEN exactly the same prints. 20 if you are a genius. After that I can still get an image but not the consistent kind that is required for an edition. Wow!

Talk about old school! This is the original old school; as in hundreds of years ago with Rembrandt and the boys. It’s amazing. I’m hooked. I’ve only been doing this for a week but I intend to eventually be making good prints. What objects of quality they will be.

Also, here is a shout out for my teacher CHARLIE CHAVEZ at Laney Community College in Oakland. It doesn’t get better than Charlie. The man has infinite knowledge and enormous presence. It is an honor to be studying with him.

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. peterc58 / Jul 9 2017 4:34 pm

    Most excellent, yes. A tree of life. Don’t mean a thing without that swing. Ladder to success. The envelope contains a secret key. The keyhole in plain sight on the kitchen table. Wonderful!

    • betweenstops / Jul 9 2017 4:36 pm

      Thanks Peter! Hope you are enjoying your summer. Love your analysis of drawing 🙂

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