Dry Point Etching Workshop


I didn’t realise until a bit into the workshop that I have done dry-point before during A Level but the process was very different to this. This meant that aspects of this workshop were familiar and easy and others were completely new and required more attention.

When I did dry point during A Level, my tutor called it etching, we did it into a type of card that had a film layer you could peel away and have solid blocks of colour if you wanted and if you put too much pressure on the plate, your fingerprints would be visible on your print.

Mick told us we were doing dry point with a plastic plate and told us how there are ways of doing it in metal in different ways as well. He encouraged us to start with a rough design and work into it with every print so we would be continually developing.

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I used a ruler to mark in my design but overshot quite a few of my lines which show up and are visible on all my prints.


After printing my first print, I asked Mick why my lines were so rough when I had carved them so straight and evenly. He said that when you etch into this kind of plate, the edges of your marks push up and the plastic forms ridges that ink can get stuck in.

This wasn’t something I had come across before as when using the card I did in A level, this didn’t happen. Mick said if I wanted I could sand it down but the marks of the sandpaper would be on my plate. I’m not entirely sure how I could fix it without damaging my plate.


I then began to work into my plate further, adding things to the design with every print.

This helped me to understand the process better, however, it cause a lot of problems throughout. When I added the diagonal lines to the block areas of the letter, it made it very hard to get the ink out from between the lines without pulling it out of the design. Thus, that area is not as clean as I would like it.



Thinking I couldn’t add much more to my design, I tried printing it in different colours. The yellow was labelled as transparent ink which meant it was easy to clean the plate and anything left on the plate surface didn’t print strongly so my design was more clear cut than when I used the green and blue.


At the end of the session, I tried to clean my plate but much of the ink had dried into the plate and I couldn’t get it out. I don’t know if this will affect future prints but it could mean that the ink doesn’t get very far into the design.

Having done this process with both card and plastic, I have to say I prefer it with card. The product you get is much cleaner which helps immensely when that is the effect you want. If I use this process again, I think I will try and source my own card and use that to do it.


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