He who knows how to appreciate colour relationships, the influence of one colour on another, their contrasts and dissonances, is promised an infinitely diverse imagery.
- Sonia Delaunay
Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.
- Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Belinda Del Pesco drypoint prints with acrylic sheets

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:44 pm

Belinda Del Pesco drypoint engravings on acrylic sheets
Belinda Del Pesco has some fascinating posts about making drypoint prints using sheets of acrylic — commonly known under brand names like Plexiglas or Lexan — as the plates, instead of traditional metal plates.

Drypoint has long been an alternative or addition to traditional etching techniques. It is advantageous in that scratching the lines directly into the plate, rather than scraping away an acid resistant coating to allow an acid bath to etch the lines, is a simpler and less demanding process. It also produces a different character of line, with slightly raised edges above the cut lines giving the final inked and printed lines a softer, more informal character.

I wasn’t aware of using the process on non-metal plates, however, and was fascinated by the idea when I came across Del Pesco’s mention of it, and her tutorial-like demonstrations of the process on her blog:
Drypoint Engraving: Bubble Bath
Dry Point on Plexi with Watercolor: Asleep in Rome
Drypoint on Plexi (Artist’s Proof): Book Escape” and
Dry Point on Plexiglass with Watercolor: Just Feel the Sun“.

Del Pesco frequently combines her printmaking techniques with final applications of watercolor. The use of the softer plastic plates, which have more limited print runs than metal ones, seems to work fairly well into the idea of more limited runs of the hand-painted prints.

I wrote to Del Pesco and she was kind enough to respond with some additional information on the process (and limitations) of drypoint on acrylic sheets:

“I think the first time I ever used plexi was in the early 80′s in a printmaking class at Santa Barbara City College. It’s an excellent way to make intaglio prints if you don’t have access to acids, or you’re into conducting your art-making in a “green” studio. (No acid, water based inks, no solvents, etc.) If you’re searching for images and ideas online, keep in mind that plexiglass is just one of the trademarked names for the stuff, and it’s also called lucite, perspex, optix (what my local hardware store carries), acrylic, petg (a bit softer) and lexan (a bit harder than plexi), etc., depending on where you are on the globe.

“If you give it a go, whatever you’re using to engrave the surface (make sure it’s good and sharp) will kick up a burr, and that little flap of plastic – which helps hold your ink and print a somewhat feathery line, is flexible and somewhat fragile. The process of inking, wiping and then a trip through the press will – over a short time – flatten the burrs, and squash out details, making it necessary to go back into the plate to re-touch, and as a result, each print has variations in lights and darks. If you like editions that vary, that’s okay, but some folks wants consistency, and for those artists, it might be best to stick with metal plates.”

3 comments for Belinda Del Pesco drypoint prints with acrylic sheets »

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  1. Comment by Sherrill
    Thursday, October 24, 2013 @ 1:09 am

    Thanks for sharing this! I had never heard of using anything other than wood or metal for making prints! I have only taken one print-making class in college so don’t have a lot of experience with this, but I think this would be a fun way to experiment without having to worry about working with those acids!

  2. Comment by Belinda Del Pesco
    Thursday, October 24, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    Hi Charley – thanks so much for featuring my work on your wonderful site. I hope this leads to a flurry of drypoint on plexiglass experiments in the studios of your readers, with lovely results. :)

  3. Comment by Chris Dunn
    Friday, October 25, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    I love the soft focus Belinda Del Pesco creates and it’s great to see other artists using perspex plates for drypoint etching. I was first introduced to it in 2005 during my foundation year. Here’s an example of what I have produced using acrylic sheets, a steel point, ink and watercolour.


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