Passion for dry point etching

Passion for dry point etching

After many years of teaching art I thought it was about time to pick up my true passion: dry point etching.

I love to tell you more about the process of dry point etching. It’s an old printing technique, used by many famous artists in the past and the present (think off Rembrandt, Louise Bourgeois or Anton Heyboer, whose work I admire very much).

With a sharp etching needle I scratch directly into the surface of the plate. The scratching makes a burr at the edge of the incised lines. The deeper the scratching, the bigger the burr. These burrs will hold ink and while printing they give a dry point etching its caracteristic beautiful deep velvety lines. A lighter line may have no burrs at all, creating a very fine line in the final print by holding very little ink.

Before I start printing I apply etching ink on the plate, making sure all lines and burrs are covered by and filled with ink. With cloth, fine paper and with my bare hand I wipe off the excess of ink. I dampen a piece of thick and high quality printing paper and lay it on top of the dry point plate. Than I run them through my beloved etching press, with gentle force… Now the next is a very exciting moment: since the print always appears in mirror image on the paper and I use to ‘play’ with the turn of the ink, it is always surprising how the print will appear. That’s what I love about this technique!

The pressure of printing quickly flattens the burr, that’s why I can only print up to an edition of ten-to-fifteen prints. Every print will be unique, with the ink wiped off by me by hand and the lines getting lighter after printing more…

I can tell you one thing: there’s nothing better than getting my hands black with ink!!