Tonetype, Drypoint and Poetry

Workshop with Hugh Bryden

Tonetype, drypoint and poetry

July 2-6, 2018

Limited to 10 – 8 left

Hugh Bryden runs a print studio in Dumfries Scotland and taught here at MakingArtSafely many years ago. In recent years Hugh has become a highly respected, awarded and recognized creator of artists’ and poetry books in the UK. Personally, I think his work is ingeniously straightforward.

“My main interest is in Printmaking (usually linocut and drypoint) and Artists books. Over the last few years my work has been shaped by collaborations with writers and other artists. In 1999 I formed Cacafuego Press with Tom Pow.” 

This is a course on Hugh’s approaches and ideas about printmaking, and books. We are organizing to have a few poets give readings as part of our Thursday night class dinner.

Drypoint, one of the most basic printmaking techniques, requiring no more than a plate and a sharp point to scratch into it, is still widely used by artists, usually in conjunction with other techniques, and most printmakers consider they know all that it has to offer. Some recent advances in intaglio printing have, however, implications for drypoint that make it more accessible and perhaps more attractive as a sophisticated and expressive technique.

Plastics have been used for many years in drypointing as a cheaper alternative to metal. I have used Melinex over the past thirty years for basic drypointing. (Melinex is a biaxially oriented polyester film from the DuPont TeijinFilms family of films.) Of the plastics I have experimented with I find that Melinex O holds a drypoint line extremely well and is firm enough to make it easy to print from. It has a number of other advantages.

Traditional and well tried methods, such as creating an aquatint-like texture by passing the plastic and a sheet of sandpaper through the press, masking areas out or cutting and shaping the sandpaper, give an opportunity for using tone as well as line. Other conventional collagrapic methods can be employed to give textural areas. Use of adhesives in tape or acrylic medium and application of grits and carborundum, roulettes and other intaglio tools can also be employed.

The transparency of the Melinex allows for easy registration.

What is particularly useful about Melinex for lazer printers is that it can be passed through a photocopier, making it extremely easy to transfer designs onto, especially as its transparency allows immediate reversal. What is of particular interest however, is that when using waterbased inks, especially AKUA which can be used on perfectly dry paper, it is possible to take a print from a photocopy made on Melinex if carefully wiped the toner will hold ink!

Tonertypes, the plates are made using the washes that can be printed in any color and can be laid successively over previous plates to ensure perfect registration. Plates can be very quickly and easily made without the need for any equipment apart from brushes and a small quantity of specific washes. The effects that can be created using this technique may be built up like laying washes on a watercolour. The plates never really give a rich saturation of colour but create subtle effects. Greater density of colour can be create achieved by cross hatching drypoint or by applying carborundum.

This method, unlike conventional intaglio where you are forcing dampened paper into the cut recesses of a plate to retrieve the ink held there this approach squeezes a plastic sheet to give up the ink held in and on it’s surface onto a dry piece of paper. One huge benefit of the methods I have been describing is it’s completely non-toxic, and you don’t rely on any photographic methods results can be achieved with the most basic of materials. This makes for a very hands on low tech process with great possibilities for studio plein-air printmaking as all the materials and equipment required are easily portable.


What’s Included

Tools for plate  making

Plastic film for plates

reasonable amount of paper and

all other typical studio materials, tools and equipment.

What to Bring

Ideas and questions

Source materials like drawing and photos

any special tools you might need can be shipped in advance if problematic for TSA if flying

That’s it! Any questions about supplies, please feel free to contact us.

Workshop Itinerary

  • Monday morning begins with students arriving at the studio between 9:30-10 AM.
  • Daily instruction is 10 AM to 4 PM with the studio open to students between 9:30 AM and 7 PM. Exception is Friday when the workshop ends at 4 PM.
  • Bring a lunch everyday except Tuesday when we go out Dutch for a late lunch
  • Thursday night we host a dinner in our courtyard. Poetry reading. Companion welcome.
  • We may well go out on a plein-air field trip one day