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WPA Collection: Graphic Arts Processes


Drypoint - An Intaglio Process

         Virility by Frank Daniel Fousek
                Drypoint, 9 1/8" x 7 1/8"

Drypoint is a process which does not depend upon an auxiliary in the form of acid to do the actual spade-work. It is nearer engraving than etching. Drypoint is one of the simplest of the intaglio processes to practice. All that one requires is a bare plate, a point (usually steel), a scraper, an oil stone, a burnisher and some ink mixed with Vasoline to show the progress of the work. The peculiar beauty of this medium is dependent upon its power of yielding a wonderful velvety richness in the proof. This is due, not to the groove which is cut below the surface, but to the "burr" or ridge thrown up by the passage of the tool. It is the burr that catches and holds the ink on the surface of the plate during the action of wiping with rag or hand. If the burr is removed with the scraper or becomes worn off in the printing, the line below holds comparatively little ink, and the distinctive quality of the medium disappears. Usually the burr is retained in the heavy passage and removed in the delicate ones. Drypoint has a tremendous range in strength of line, far exceeding anything produced by etching. The drypoint is extremely fragile, the usual edition being about thirty. If the plate is faced with chromium steel a great number of proofs can be pulled without injuring the delicate burr or any noticeable change showing in the proof.

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