A straight forward adaption of engraving or drypoint... a drawing is
made on stiff card and coated several times with gloss acrylic medium as
smoothly as possible (maybe a foam brush rather than bristle).
Once the acrylic has dried an x-acto knife is used to score over the
image creating an ink holding scratch in the dry acrylic medium. Some plate
tint can be obtained by painting in areas with matte medium.
When the drawing is scratched into the plate, use a rolled up stump of
felt to force oil based ink (I use water miscible oil paints) into the drawing.
Then wipe the plate with sheets of newsprint or office bond wrapped over a
block (I twist paper from an old phone book over a tomato sauce bottle
Now place inked and wiped plate face up on work surface (spray
adhesive can be used to hold plate down)... cover with lightly dampened
printing paper. Place plastic coated freezer paper or some other protection
over back of damp paper and print by leaning in hard with a wooden spoon or
Check on print by peeking under a corner. If you intend to do multiplate
color printing make registration marks for the plate placement and paper
placement on work surface with masking tape.
I print these scratch prints using a press I made out of plywood and a
4-ton automotive bottle jack... my design is based on the presses used in
The simplest design is three thick frames cut out of 3/4 inch plywood
(exterior dimension 24 inches square and interior dimension 18 inches square).
These frames are laminated together with glue and given a 2x4 foot attached to
each outer bottom edge. An 18 inch square platform is cut and glued on top of
the bottom of the frame opening. A metal plate if possible, otherwise a 2.25
inch square piece of plywood, is attached at center of the upper edge of frame
opening. Preferably the platen is a flat 18 inch square piece of scrap iron but
quarter inch masonite may be used.
For use the inked plate is set face up on bottom platform and covered
with dampened paper to be printed, the back of this paper is covered with a
felt and then the platen board.
The bottle jack is placed centered on the board and pumped up against the
plate at the top edge of the frame opening... pump until wood creeks and
makes scary noises... release pressure by opening valve on bottle jack, pull
jack up to force piston back down, and remove jack and platen. You should
have the ink from the palette transferred to your paper now.