Although I'm a printmaker, I've never really been too fond of pulling an entire edition. It's for this reason that I keep my editions quite small; usually under 12 per image. Besides the wiping of plates, I really find the prepping of intaglio plates to be tedious. I have found various ways to work around my laziness and still be able to print. For example: I use the cut window remnants of my matts for my collographs because they are already bevelled. For my drypoints, I have been known to use tin which is so thin that it doesn't need any bevel at all. My quest to make plate prepping easier continues. One day when I was cleaning around the house I re-looked at some plastic Ikea bin lids and wondered if I could cut some plates out of them. The plastic is quite soft and can easily take the marks of a scribe well. The lids were as thick as my steel plate so I put a 45 degree bevel on the edges with a utility knife. Easy! That's my kind of plate prep.
Below are some photos of the process I used to create a drypoint print with a plastic plate.
This is a plate in progress. I will finish the print by hand-coloring with watercolor.
I've been really happy with the variety of line and tone I can create with these plates and because I don't create large editions, I'm not concerned with the plate wearing down.
The major drawback to using this softer plastic versus a styrene or metal plate, is that the oil from the ink softens the plate a bit and it becomes hard to wipe the plate clean after a while. To compensate for the fact that I am only able to print three times per plate before having to clean the plate completely, I print 2-3 different plates at the same time. As well, the plastic gives a lot of plate tone which I have been using to my advantage and wiping it much like I would a reductive monotype.
Here are a few pictures of some pieces I have created using the plastic plates. Fun and cheap. You might want to give it a try too. I would love to see what others come up with.