The LA-based artist and Dreamhaus LA co-founder shares his creative process.

By Balthazar Malevolent


Whether you are tie-dying a pair of Nike socks or perfecting your hand-lettering skills, in coronavirus times, art can be a helpful tool for relieving tension. The LA-based artist and co-founder of Dreamhaus LA, Nikkolos Mohammed, sees the development of drypoint etchings as a useful outlet to decompress during the difficult times we are currently living in.

Drypoint etching.

Drypoint etching is considered to be one of the oldest forms of printmaking, dating back to the 15th century. Artists and printmakers carve or scrape images onto a plate with a hard-pointed needle in the process. One of the benefits of drypoint etching is that it is safer than other methods that require the use of acid, such as conventional engraving and aquatint. Mohammed shows us his drypoint etching techniques.

First, he's using scotch tape to attach an image, in this case, a portrait of Malcolm X, to a plexiglass medium. He then uses an etching tool for visual tracing. Occasionally, he puts a piece of fabric in between the plexiglass to see his etching results. Mohammed also etches hatch marks to determine their depth on certain areas of the composition. When the etching is finished, he scrapes ink onto the plexiglass and then uses tarlatan and telephone pages to extract the tin from the plexiglass surface where there are no reliefs. Finally, he uses a portable printing press to pass the ink onto a sheet of paper.

Drypoint is an intaglio family printmaking technique in which an image is incised onto a plate or matrix with a sharp metal or diamond pointed hard-spotted needle. The process is essentially similar to gravure, in theory. The distinction is in the use of tools, and the raised ridge along the furrow isn't scraped or filed away as in engraving. Traditionally, the plate was made of copper, but now it's often popular to use acetate, zinc or plexiglas instead. Like etching, for an artist trained in drawing, drypoint is simpler to learn than gravure, since the process of using the needle is closer to using a pencil than the burin of the engraver. The word also refers to inkless scratched inscriptions, such as manuscript glosses.

Designer Thierry Mugler was using the Drypoint etching technique in one of his collections back in the 1970s.

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