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SPN 450/550 Fall 2021 Makerspace : Intaglio Printing

A guide to resources relating to the Makerspace for SPN 450/550 students.

3D Printed Printing Press

A purple roller printing press on the right side, with a white wool printing blanket. A variety of prints and plates on the table, including a flower and smiley face

In the Makerspace, we have 3D printed several roller printing presses. Printmaking was a powerful political tool during the era of the Mexican Revolution. During the Makerspace session, you will have the opportunity to create your own plates and make prints using the printing presses and the intaglio printing process. 

Intaglio Printing with the 3D Printed Etching Press

1. Prepare the paper

Before you etch your plate, first prepare the paper that you’ll print on later. It’s important that you use paper that can soak up the ink from the scratches on the plate.

Use some of the provided water and a brush to wet the paper on both sides. Let it soak in a while before you use it for printing.

A clear cup of water, and two small pieces of paper. A hand holds down one piece of paper while the other hand uses a brush to add water to the paper.

2. Make your plate

To etch your image, use the drypoint needle to make deep scratches into the inner layer of the carton — the plastic/aluminum layer. The paper backing underneath will later soak up ink and transfer it onto your print paper. The scratches are perfect if you can feel them when you move your finger over them.

A person's hands are seen etching a face into the aluminum plate with an etching pen.

3. Ink the plate

Use a gloved finger to spread the ink onto your plate. Make sure to get the ink into all of the carved areas. 

One hand holds the etching plate while the other uses a finger to spread the intaglio ink onto the plate.

4. Wipe the plate

Use paper towels to wipe all excess paint off of the plate, while also pressing remaining ink into the scratches on the plate. 

One hand holds the inked plate and the other presses a piece of paper onto the plate.

5. Press your plate!

On the bed of the press, place your inked plate, layer your wet paper over top, then your wool felt. Roll all materials through the press, and you should have your first print!

A printing press with a etched plate of a face, with printed paper being lifted off.