Recently, I decided it was time to get out of my comfort zone and try some alternative printing methods. I have started with drypoint etching. For this a scratching needle is used to etch the image into a plastic or, in my case, a rhenalon plate. Etching has some similarities to drawing – the scrape of the needle is a little like drawing with a pencil. It is also quite different to my normal Lino printing – here instead of cutting away the parts you don’t want to print, you etch the bits you do.
Once the image has been etched, the ink is rubbed over the top and into the scratches. I mixed my ink with some Vaseline. Wipe off any excess ink from the plate, otherwise you will just get a big mess! To print I used a thick wet printing paper. Then print. You need to run the plate through the press at a much higher pressure than you would use for lino; the ink displaces the water as you push the plate through, transferring the image to the paper. If the pressure is not high enough, then it won’t print properly.
I etched three different images using this technique – the nude you can see above, an abstract and a typographical image. Oh, and just in case anyone was wondering, KitKat is not my favourite chocolate bar, but the nickname I use for my sister!