Exquisite Corpses Etching Workshop: Drypoint Edition

A few weekends ago, a number of students crowded around a display of books in our historical medical library as Historical Medical Librarian Beth Lander spoke. The books ranged from the Renaissance to the 1850’s, and were all filled with astoundingly beautiful medical illustrations. Beth went from book to book, elucidating the various manuscripts and placing them in context of their history and importance to medicine. The students were there to cut them apart. Well, not the actual books, but photocopies of the illustrations in them. This was all part of a class in tandem with Second State Press called Exquisite Corpses Etching Workshop: Drypoint.

After we had spent an hour poring over the minute details of the illustrations in these antique books, students ventured into the classroom, where a spread of the photocopies lay across two 6 foot tables. Students chose a handful of images and went to work cutting them apart and gluing them onto paper, reassembling, abstracting, and creating inspired collages.

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Printmaker Lauren Pakradooni from Second State then passed out sheets of plexiglass. Students placed the plexi plates on top of their collages and traced them, digging and etching into the plates with a sharp pointed tool called a scribe. Lauren described the techniques one could use to create marks and make tonal value, including cross-hatching, stippling, and scratching with sandpaper.

On Sunday, students came to Second State Press where they inked their incomplete plates and did test prints to see how their initial etchings were coming out. After reviewing how the various techniques looked once printed, students worked back into their plates, completing their etchings and running them through the press, with terrific results!

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Be sure to check our Events page for upcoming arts events – we are holding another session of our 8-week specimen drawing course, Drawing Anatomical Anomalies in September and October, as well as an interactive performance of Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, followed by cocktails and a conversation about tuberculosis in Poe’s life and works on October 4th.

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