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WPA Collection: Graphic Arts Processes


Stylotint - An Intaglio Process

         Calla Lily by Kalman Kubinyi
              Stylotint, 9 1/2" x 7 1/2"

Stylotint is an unexplored medium which is capable of producing lines of great freedom, variation, character and sensitiveness, and a great variety of curious textures, and when it is combined with tones of aquatint it can produce results similar to a Japanese monochrome water color. Stylotint is a method of etching in which the coating on the plate is soft and easily displaced with a stick, stump, stiff brush, rag, or steel point. If the stylus, of wood or any other material, is cut like a chisel on the end it will produce a line of various thickness. This is the type of line which most resembles the Japanese brush line. The parts of the plate from which the coating has been removed in this way will appear black in the finished proof. After the drawing has been made, the plate is heated and the ground becomes stronger than a regular hard ground. This process belongs to the family which included pen process aquatint, which is sometimes called soft ground, offset soft ground, as well as stylotint. Although each one of these processes uses a different way of producing areas of open copper on an otherwise coated plate, they all break up the open surfaces with aquatint so that they print as areas of aquatint in the shape of pen or brush lines, crayon lines or wooden stylus lines. The beauty of this process, invented by Alexander Van Kubinyi of Munich, lies in the quality of the lines and textures, the ease with which large areas of black are produced, and in the smooth, easy resistance of the drawing tool on the surface of the copper. The interplay of the first and last of these qualities, the way a sharpened wood stylus acts on the smooth copper plate covered with a softish ground, makes possible a control, a type of line, a kind of drawing not obtained in any other way.

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