Printmaking: Drypoint, Etching, Woodcut
Printmaking is the process of making artworks by printing normally on paper. Prints are created from a single original surface, known technically as a matrix. Common types of matrices include: plates of metal, usually copper or zinc used for creatingetchings or drypoint; and blocks of wood for woodcuts.
Printmaking techniques can be divided into the following basic families or categories:
- Relief Printing – The ink goes on the original (top) surface of the matrix.
- Intaglio Printing – The ink goes beneath the original surface of the matrix into the scratched recessed lines.
Drypoint: An intaglio printing technique in printmaking in which an image is scratched into a metal plate (usually copper, zinc or steel) Similar to etching techniques, the primary difference lies in the tool used in the scratching process.While engraved and etched lines are very smooth and hard-edged, dry point scratching leaves a rough burr at the edges of each line. This burr gives drypoint prints a characteristically soft, and sometimes blurry, line quality. Because the pressure of printing quickly destroys the burr, drypoint is useful only for very small editions. Please view “Artist Proof” as an example of a drypoint print.
Etching: An intaglio printing technique in printmaking in which an image is scratched into a metal plate (usually copper, zinc or steel) which is coated with a wax. The artist then scratches off the wax with a pointed etching needle where he wants a line to appear in the finished piece, so exposing the bare metal. The plate is then dipped in a bath of acid, or has acid washed over it. The acid “bites” into the metal, where it is exposed, leaving behind lines to the plate. The remaining wax is then cleaned off the plate, and the printing process proceeds. Please view “Washing Hair” as an example of an etching.
Woodcut: A relief printing technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges. The areas that show ‘white’ are cut away with a knife or chisel, leaving the characters or image to show in ‘black’ at the original surface level. Please view “Connecticut Birch Trees” as an example of a woodcut.