The intaglio impression is renown for it's luminousity and sensitivity to the physical surface of the plate. Like all printmaking it permits the artist to create multiple impressions from a single plate or matrix. Intaglio printing is unusual in that the ink is wiped into the incised grooves of an etched plate, and the surface wiped clean. The intaglio press exerts tons of pressure to force dampened paper into the incised lines. The resulting print is uncommonly beautiful as the physicality of the etched plate is recorded in the sheet of paper.

Intaglio prints, commonly referred as etchings, continue to retain resonance into the 21st century. The remarkably specific quality and character of the intaglio line is inimitable. An acid etched line can be rendered from remarkably delicate to extremely physical depending on the strength of the etchant and how long the the plate remains in the mordant. Drypoint is one of the intaglio techniques created quite directly on the plate. The scribe drawn directly into the surface of the metal plate creates not only a groove, but displaces a small burr of metal in the process, creating an unusually velvety line with ink remaining on the outer edge of the burr as well as in the burr. Engraving too falls under the intaglio rubric. Engraved lines are taut in character as they are cut directly into the plate by the artist. Engraving requires tremendous focus and developed skill to push the engraving burin through the hard and brittle copper. An intaglio impression is made by forcing ink into the recessed, toothy areas of the plate, wiping the smooth surfaces free of ink, then printing the plate on a sheet of dampened paper with the aid of an etching press. The press forces the paper into the recessed areas of the plate--transferring the ink and recording the physical depth of the plates surface. The intaglio line often appears to be raised or embossed depending on the depth of the mark in the plate. The resulting intaglio impression possesses richness and clarity.

Holly Morrison etching "This Land"
Holly Morrison, "This Land", aquatint, drypoint, chine colle (detail) click image to view entire print.

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Intaglio - a Studio Manual, was created with support from the VCU Center for Teaching Excellence - Small Grant Program.
This electronic intaglio studio manual was authored by Holly Morrison for the students at the VCU School of the Arts.

©Holly Morrison, all rights reserved