Friday, March 26, 2010

Drypoint prints with a plastic plate

For today's post I thought I'd take you into my studio to show you what I've been working on lately.

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.

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  1. Holy cow! Those are awesome prints from a plastic plate! You're amazing! I'm going to have to try this.

  2. If you do please post them somewhere. I'd love to see what you get.

    Here is my first attempt at using a plexi plate for drypoint.
    I don't have a press, so I am using a converted pasta maker to print...

  4. Joanna,
    That print looks great! I haven't used plexi-glass yet for drypoint. I use it for watercolor monotypes.
    Great idea about using the pasta machine!

  5. Everything I have read about plexi says you are severely limited in the quantity of pulls. It is a pretty hard surface to cut into, though, so maybe they will hold up. I am in the process of moving and once that is done I am going to do some more experimenting!