A Dry-point a day keeps the doctor away….

I’m an absolute fan of Venice. I like to go there in April early March (when the tourists are absent) and wander the canals and soak up the atmosphere. Here are a couple of dry points of Venice I completed recently.

You may be wondering what a dry point etch is? Well the answer to that question is that it is an engraving process which is part of the intaglio technique of engraving. Dry point can be done on metal and on other surfaces such as PVC. The following is one of a series of dry points which I completed on PVC. I like this method because there is no etching chemical required, its relatively clean and environmentally friendly as printing goes.

In the etching process a graver or burin cuts the metal out of the plate and etching removes the metal by dissolving it. The dry point technique only displaces the metal or plastic (in this case). In dry point the surface is scratched or punctured and scraped using a sharp pointed needle. The PVC plastic is partially removed and the rest is merely pushed to the sides, forming a crust or curl on the outer edges- referred to as the burr. It is important to keep this burr intact as this is the element which characterizes the technique when printed. Dry point results in the ink being caught both inside the lines and in the burr around the lines, producing a softness to the lines.

The tool used is the dry point needle, and it is this that gives the technique its name. It has a very fine cutting point like a needle but is used like a pencil. Points of various sizes can be used to create various results. Dry point has spontaneous and sketch-like characteristics.

But because of the burr- the printing of these plates is a delicate process! One of the draw-backs of using PVC is the fact that from one sheet you will get at best 10 prints and no more because the burr will be quickly damaged with every cleaning and re-inking of the PVC plate. The impression created by dry point is also called an etching.

Rembrandt used this technique too. Other artists will purposefully remove the burr so that the finished product looks more like burin or graver work.

Dry point etch of Venice by Sarah-Alice Miles

The etches here are of the very first print taken from the PVC dry point etched sheet. You can see quite clearly that the lines and edges have produced a lovely full line. I am a real fan of this technique, I think it produces a very romantic finish., which suits the Venice I know.


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