Printmaking 101: Mezzotints

"Dispersion" Mezzotint by Julie Niskanen

The Mezzotint was the first tonal method to be used in intaglio printmaking without being dependent upon the lines made by cross-hatching. Using a tool called the “rocker,” the artist covers the plate in lots of tiny depressions, caused by the metal teeth on the edge of the rocker.  By going over the plate in many different directions–artists can make a full pass over the plate over 30 times–large spaces of plate texture which print a rich and velvety black are made.  From there, artists can go back in with a scraper or burnisher to bring the lights back out of the darkness.  Mezzotints are highly favored in the printmaking community because the artist can create such an even and finely detailed image.  Note the fine lines of the dandelion seeds WPG member artist Julie was able to recreate in the mezzotint to the left!

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One response to “Printmaking 101: Mezzotints

  1. Niskanen’s work is beautifully done. She’s superb.