Tetrapak Drypoint Printing

Here at Phoenix, our members are always looking to expand their knowledge of techniques and methods.  The potential of a new technique often gives freshness to our work, and the variety of skills and expertise within the group provides for a range of enjoyable in-house workshops.  When Rosaline Darby showed us her experiments in drypoint printmaking using otherwise waste Tetrapak cartons and a portable etching press generously lent to her by fellow Phoenix member Maria Walker, we jumped at the chance to have a go ourselves. Here, Robertta McPherson describes her experience of the workshop.

Some examples of Rosaline’s prints:

It was a revelation to discover that we could reuse a ‘throw-away’ carton as an environmentally friendly printing block.   We used a sharp pointed implement such as a tapestry needle inserted in a cork to make an improvised drypoint needle to etch a design onto the shiny side of the Tetrapak, remembering that the final print would be in reverse.

Concentrating on etching their designs:

At this stage, part of the surface could be textured using a small pad of wire wool or a small wire brush, or small areas of the surface could be cut out to create darker areas in the resulting print.

Next, we carefully applied the ink, rubbing it into the design with a wodge of tarlatan scrim.   Then any excess ink was lifted off with acid free tissue paper.   This was all achieved with varying degrees of mess.   However careful we were, the ink found a way to the inside of our rubber gloves!

Applying the ink and rubbing into the designs:

Then came the exciting part when, with the use of the etching press, we discovered whether our designs produced a reasonable print.

Here is a selection of our results from the day:

Once the prints are properly dry, colour can be added using watercolour paints.  Here are some that Robertta embellished with colour later at home:

It was a really enjoyable, fun workshop.   According to Robertta, this method of printing will certainly find a place in some future work.

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