Drypoint is the new Etching!

I have printed the ‘Medusa in the Bath’ picture – the February image for my calendar for next year – and I am feeling quite pleased with myself! I do enjoy Aluminium etching, but I have to admit it can sometimes be a bit of a crude technique for making a picture. I recall a little bit of copper etching I did, um, something more than 25 years ago now :-o, and I recall being able to get very fine detailed lines. This doesn’t seem to be so much the case with aluminium etching – maybe it is to do with the speed that the etching solution eats into the metal, and the larger grain of the metal.
So, I have shied away from including a lot of detail in my etchings, and the drawing of Medusa in the Bath did have quite a lot going on… from the twisty taps, to the appropriate reading matter, to the little snake-shaped rubber duck… a shame to simplify it. So I took the plunge and did the entire thing in drypoint – a technique I used a little in a couple of recent posts.
And here is the printed result:

Medusa in the Bath - drypoint print
Medusa in the Bath – drypoint print

No etching! Just a sharp pointy tool scratched into the metal. This image (above) is quite a large one, you should be able to click on it and get it to go bigger if you want a magnified version…

Medusa in the Bath (detail) - drypoint print
Medusa in the Bath (detail) – drypoint print

The disadvantage, as I have said before, is that the plate does not last for very long, but, much to my surprise, I got 10 good prints from it with only a little sign of losing the image, maybe I could even have printed more.

Here’s the aluminium plate, freshly scratched before printing:

Drypoint on aluminium - the plate for 'Medusa in the Bath'
Drypoint on aluminium – the plate for ‘Medusa in the Bath’

And another shot just of Medusa’s head, with different lighting:

Drypoint on aluminium - detail of the plate for 'Medusa in the Bath'
Drypoint on aluminium – detail of the plate for ‘Medusa in the Bath’

If anyone is interested to know what I am using to draw / scratch with, I am not using a traditional drypoint needle, but some leftovers of my jewellery days – some tiny tools that I have always called burrs, though they are also known as fraziers. The smallest ones of these work very well: http://www.hswalsh.com/Fraizer-.aspx?i=TF0809&c=1193 You need a handle to put these in, and you have to remember not to press too hard or the head can snap right off, but they are quite cheap to buy a dozen of, and you can re-sharpen the point, if you break just the very tip of it. This is not the use for which they are intended, but they work a treat, and also for drawing through a resist prior to etching.

I am now wondering if my pointy tools would work on steel, which should last longer, though frankly I am probably happy with 10 prints.

Of course the the other reason I am feeling pleased with myself is that that brings the total of pictures up to 11… only one more to go!


  1. wonderful art.keep sharing.thanks

  2. […] [Note: the rubber duck was also my invention,though the original painting featured a demon, in my recent drypoint print Medusa now has a hybrid rubber snake-duck, which is […]

  3. […] #10     Drypoint is the new Etching!,More info:nancyfarmer.wordpress […]

Tell me what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s