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What is the meaning of the art term Drypoint?

Drypoint tools are a type of printmaking tools that are used to create lines and textures on a printing plate. These tools are usually made of metal or plastic and have sharp points or edges for scratching or incising the surface of the plate.

Some common drypoint tools include:

1. Drypoint needles: These are sharp-pointed needles with different sizes and shapes, used to scratch lines into the plate. They can create both thin and thick lines, depending on the pressure applied.

2. Etching needle: Similar to drypoint needles, etching needles have a sharp point, but they are often longer and have a handle for better control. They are used to incise the plate and create fine details in the image.

3. Burnisher: A burnisher is a tool with a rounded or polished tip, used to smooth and polish the scratched lines on the plate. It can also be used to remove unwanted burrs or roughness from the plate surface.

4. Scraper: A scraper is a tool with a sharp, flat edge used to remove ink or excess material from the plate. It can also be used to create textures or effects on the plate by scraping or gouging the surface.

5. Roulettes: Roulettes are tools with small wheels or spiked rollers used to create repetitive patterns or textures on the plate. They can be used in combination with drypoint needles or etching needles to achieve different effects.

6. Sandpaper: While not a specific drypoint tool, sandpaper is commonly used in drypoint printmaking to roughen or smooth the plate surface. It can help create different textures or prepare the plate for printing.

These are just some of the common drypoint tools used by printmakers. The choice of tools will depend on the desired effect and personal preference of the artist.
Drypoint is an intaglio printmaking technique where an image is incised directly onto a plate using a hard-pointed instrument, typically a needle or a diamond-tipped stylus. Unlike other intaglio methods like etching, drypoint does not involve the use of acid or chemicals to create the incised lines. The lines are made by scratching the plate directly with the tool, resulting in a rough and granular quality to the lines.

To create a drypoint print, an artist starts by selecting a plate made of a suitable material such as copper, zinc, or plexiglass. The plate is then cleaned and sanded to create a smooth surface. The artist then uses a hard-pointed tool, often a needle, to scratch or engrave lines into the plate. These incised lines are usually shallow, which means that less ink will be held by the plate compared to deeper intaglio methods.

Once the plate is ready, ink is applied to the surface and wiped away, leaving ink only in the incised lines. This wiped ink is essential as it ensures that only the engraved lines will hold ink and create the image on the print. After inking, a sheet of dampened paper is carefully placed on top of the plate, and both are run through a press under high pressure. The pressure forces the paper into the incised lines, transferring the ink and creating the final image.

One of the distinctive characteristics of drypoint prints is the burr or furrow raised on the edges of the incised lines. This burr occurs when the drypoint needle displaces metal fibers alongside the incision. It creates a fuzzy, irregular quality to the lines, adding an expressive and textural element to the print. However, the burr wears down after a few impressions, resulting in subsequent prints being less sharp and less defined compared to the earlier ones.

Artists often use drypoint to create a wide range of effects and textures due to its versatility. The rough lines produced through drypoint can evoke a sense of spontaneity, energy, and gestural mark-making. Additionally, artists can experiment with various mark-making techniques like cross-hatching, stippling, or hatching to build up tones and create different visual effects.

Famous artists who employed drypoint in their work include Rembrandt van Rijn, Francisco Goya, and Edgar Degas. The technique continues to be used by contemporary printmakers, who exploit its unique qualities to create expressive and tactile prints.
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