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2. Intaglio Prints

Intaglio comes from the Italian verb intagliare, meaning to incise. The distinguishing feature of intaglio is that the image is incised on a plate either by means of a stylus as in drypoint, by means of a burin as in engraving, or by means of a mordant as in etching. The plate is then inked and then wiped so that (usually)  the ink remains only in the incised grooves of the plate and not on the surface. The image is formed by running the inked plate and a pre-moistened sheet of paper through an etching press which transfers the ink from the grooves to the paper surface. Multiple prints can be made and editions of prints are the norm.
a. Drypoints
I like the drypoint technique because of its directness and spontaneity. I have used metal, acrylic and matboard as plates. With a metal plate, a burr is thrown up at the sides of the groove produced by the stylus and the inked plate gives a soft, rich line that is a characteristic of drypoints on metal. Because the burr wears away after repeated passes through the press, only 6 to 8 good prints are produced before the line quality deteriorates. Using matboard plates allow me to draw rapidly with a ballpoint pen and also lets me work on a larger format as matboard is relatively cheap compared to metal plates of similar size.

See James Mah's Drypoint Prints

Vessels and Fruit I
Drypoint, 6.5" x 8"

b. Carborundum Prints
Carborundum prints are printed intaglio, but in theory they can also be printed in relief. Carborundum is a fine grit in powder form used as an industrial abrasive. I have also experimented with stair tread grit and pumice.  When mixed with acrylic gel medium, the grit in solution is used to make an image on a plate by means of a brush. When dried, it forms areas of texture or line which is then inked intaglio, relief or both, and the image is made by passing pre-moistened paper and plate through an etching press. Carborundum allows you to make areas of tone in a print more easily than say traditional aquatint methods. Again, I appreciate the directness of the technique and the textural possibilities of the print.

See James Mah's Carborundum Prints

Two Dancers (Red & Black)
Carborundum Print, 11" x 8.5"

c. Collograph Prints
With collographs, an image is made on a plate using PVC glue by itself or in combination with other materials (bits of cloth, corrugated cardboard, etc.)The plate is then inked intaglio or relief or both, and printed onto paper with an etching press or by hand. To try to find a simple means of reproducing the effect of mezzotint in traditional etching, I have experimented with sandpaper and emery paper. The emery paper is glued onto a plate and the image is produced by removing portions of the textured surface using a burnisher or other device.  Where the texture is smoothed over on the plate,  it does not hold as much ink as the textured surface and so will produce a lighter area on the print. These sandpaper prints provide an interesting ‘carving out’ of light areas on a dark field and can produce some wonderful tonal effects.

See James Mah's Collograph Prints

Head of Man (red)
Collograph Sandpaper Variable Edition, 10.5" x 9"