Skip to main content

On how to make extremely inexpensive drypoints & collagraphs


Definition of a drypoint: intaglio printmaking method where you scratch lines directly into the surface of a metal/plexiglass plate. So no need to cover the plate with an acid-resistant ground, draw into the ground, then etch the plate in acid. You just scratch, ink, wipe away excess ink, then print. 

Definition of a collagraph: materials glued to a surface (metal, plexiglass, matboard), sealed with acrylic medium, then inked and printed. 


In teaching a printmaking class at the end of last year in rural Illinois, I had to get creative in finding inexpensive materials. I stumbled upon aluminum (=aluminium where I come from) flashing tiles at Home Depot. They are 5” x 7”, and you can get a hundred of them for around $20. There are several advantages to this:

1. The aluminum tiles are a lot cheaper than copper, zinc, and steel, which are the traditional metals used for drypoint. For example: a 5” x 7” economy copper plate goes for around $5 per plate (so $500 for a hundred of those).

2. It’s even cheaper than plexiglass, which would be about $1 per 5” x 7” plate, or $100 for 100 plates.

3. Because the aluminum flashing tiles are so thin, you don’t have to file the edges down before you run them through the printing press. 

    The disadvantage is that because they are so thin, you can’t get many impressions from them. I’ve got maybe four out of a single plate, as opposed to twenty or more from a steel plate. 

    But if you’re looking for a very cheap way to produce a couple of decent-looking drypoint prints – and especially if you want to teach the technique to beginners – then aluminum flashing tiles are an excellent alternative to the traditional materials. 


    I also used the tiles to make carborundum collagraphs: 


    Here are some quick instructions (you need access to a printing press for this): 



    1. Handle the edges carefully: they are sharp!

    2. Take some steel wool and rub it in a circular motion over the entire surface of the plate. This removes the pre-coating from the plate, and provides a nice ‘tooth’ for the carborundum mixture.

    3. In a jar, make up a mixture of 40% acrylic gloss medium, and 60% carborundum grit (or silicone carbide). This is like a very hard sand, and when dry the particles hold a lot of ink.


    4. Use a small brush to paint an image on the plate with the carborundum mixture.


    5. When the image is dry (about 2 hours), seal the image with a layer of acrylic gloss medium.

    6. Ink, wipe, and print.


    Here is an image I created by combining three aluminum flashing tiles, using drypoint and carborundum collagraph, each one inked with a different color (=colour where I come from):






     Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

    Comments

    Popular posts from this blog

    Brancusi in Plastic

    Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times:

    Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage. I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.

    How to etch a linoleum block

    Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.


    A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…

    A List of Every Drink in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises"

    I first read Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" when I was a teenager, and immediately fell in love with it. For the last couple of years, I have had the incredible privilege of teaching a class based around Hemingway in Paris -- while living and teaching in Paris itself, close to the Boulevard du Montparnasse, where most of the action of the novel's first half takes place.

    Of the many things that one notices about the book, the colossal amount of drinking is something that stands out. These people didn't just drink like fish: they drank like whales, as if the ocean they swam in was alcohol and they had set themselves the task of drinking the seas of the world dry of it. During my read-through of the book before class started last year, I tried to underline every mention of drink in the book. And now, purely in the interests of science, I am listing the entire menu of booze mentioned directly by name. Some preliminary observations:
    Most of this is…