Monday, 20 November 2017

Milk Carton Drypoint Workshop

I took the Milk Carton Drypoint workshop from Ren Adams at Remarque/New Grounds Print Workshop in Albuquerque, on Sunday, November 19, 2017.

Milk Carton Drypoint Workshop
at Remarque/New Grounds

It was a great workshop!  There is a true advantage to working with cheap materials, before graduating to expensive copper to do dry point prints.  Moreover one can do nice work on milk cartons, like this simple print  below, which Ben, from St Pius X High School, made during the session.

Ben's simple, but effective
mini milk carton drypoint print

Ren Adams lecturing
about milk carton drypoint

She showed us one of her colorful prints,
made with milk carton dry point techniques

Besides milk cartons, one can use almost any treated box or carton, that they sell with food it in at the local grocery store.  The cardboard has to be treated with a plastic/waxy waterproof coating, to resist water a bit, and hold the dry point scratchings.

Cutting up a milk carton

Peeling a layer off the milk carton sheet reveals the fuzzy cardboard below.  When inked, this cardboard prints with a salty texture, something kin to aquatint.

Peeling off a layer 
from the milk carton

Scratching a design into the milk carton
with a dry point tool

The milk carton plate
peeled and scratched into,
ready for inking

The milk carton dry points
were inked up with Akua intaglio inks

After applying the Akua intaglio ink with old credit cards, the ink was wiped off with newsprint pages from old telephone books, rather than with a tarlatan cloth.

Rubbing off  the ink 
with old telphone book pages

After inking, one can further rub off the plate tone ink with a Q-tip.  On the milk carton plate below, Ren peeled and drew a design, and I drew in the curved lines with a sewing machine needle, which fit into a lead holder.

Milk carton drypoint
inked and ready to print
(note sewing machine needle
in lead holder)

Our collaboration print

Wiping ink off with a Q-tip
(using alcohol sparingly gives a nice uneven white,
to the wiped-off areas)

The paper has to be soaked 
for at least 10 mintues
before printing

Ren put a piece of acrylic on the press first, and then laid the inked milk carton plate on it.  Then she put the fine printmaking paper over the milk carton plate, and 2 sheets of newsprint over that.  Finally she laid the blankets over the pile, and rolled everything through the press.

Jorge, Ben, and Joy
the other participants in the workshop,
watching Ren run a print through the press

My other print, fresh off the press

My print next to the plate
(which could have used more press pressure).
I drew into the plate 
with a sewing needle in a lead holder
to get the curved lines

Jorge cut out a shape from the milk carton, and drew into that, with a dry point tool.  Then he printed several milk carton plates at once, each inked with a different color, on the same piece of paper, to make the colorful masterpiece below.

Jorge's print

Joy's print

Joy's print on rice paper
(which she also soaked)

Ben did multi-colored prints by rolling the paper through the press several times -- each time with a cut out milk carton design, inked with a different color.

Ben did the 3 Pagoda prints towards the bottom

*  Thank you Ren Adams  *

Ren Adams
at her opening at Remarque/New Grounds,

Ren Adams printed a relief edition,


Ren also gave me some more durable materials to do dry point on -- a sheet of Plaskolite acrylic (from Lowes or Home Depot), and a discarded thin aluminum sheet that was was used for photo-lithography.

Acrylic, aluminium, and milk carton
dry point surfaces

I have a small Conrad etching press, which is portable, though somewhat heavy.   Milk carton dry point, with Akua ink, might be the perfect project to take to different sites for demonstrations and workshops.  

Conrad E-9 etching press

Sewing Needle Etching and Drypoint

One of the reasons I took this workshop is because I wanted to try out how my sewing needle worked, for etching and drypoint (like perhaps Rembrandt used).  I bought some sewing machine needles at Ryan's Sewing and Vacuum in Santa Fe, which have a thick back end that fits perfectly in most lead holders. 

Sewing machine needles

Sewing machine needle
in a lead holder

I was looking for a little flexibility in my etching tool, which allows me more control while making curved lines.  To my surprise, the sewing machine needle worked great for dry point, on all the surfaces -- milk carton, aluminum and plastic.  However, it did break at one point, launching directly into my face.  It's a good idea to wear glasses when working with the thin sewing needle. 

I understand a number 7 sewing needle works as well in a lead holder (hand sewing needle?).

Homemade Echoppe

I am also looking for a way to vary my line, between thick and thin, with an etching tool.  The Echoppe does this, but it's difficult to buy one.

So I made my own Echoope with a sewing needle at QueLab hackerspace in Albuquerque. Eric showed me the dremel tool with a diamond wheel.  We fixed that in some vice grips (with rubber faced wooden holders), and tried to angle the sewing needle at 30 degrees while filing it off.  

Homemade sewing needle Echoppe,
using a dremel and diamond wheel

I did try the sewing needle Echoppe on the milk carton, but the results were not clear.  I need to try it on an etching plate, probably with the BIG etching ground.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Krrrl,
    Not sure if this message will reach you, but a colleague and I are writing an article on 3D printing in music and are hoping it would be OK to use the picture of your 3D printed dual mouthpiece? If it's OK could you send me a quick email to ?
    And my apologies about trying multiple methods for contacting you!
    All the best


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