Notes on the Monotype Technique

A monotype is created by covering a metal plate entirely with etching ink, then removing the ink partially or wholy for the lighter and white areas of the picture you are making. This process is carried out using brushes, toothpicks, cotton swabs, foam rubber, your fingers, etc. One can also start with a clean plate and apply the ink in various ways, but as etching ink is a fairly unmanageable substance it is hard to achieve the intended effect. If the ink is too thickly applied it will spread from the pressure when printed, forming a blot. If too thin it won't show up at all. Also if the ink is too thick I suspect that in a few years the paper on which the monotype is printed on will show discoloration from the excess oil contained in the ink.When the picture on the plate is finished, it is run through an etching press with dampened rag paper to form a unique one of a kind print. Almost all the ink transfers fo the paper so it is not possible to make more than one print, hence the prefix mono. This is a difficult technique because not only is the image reversed when printed but while working on the plate it is hard to see what the final effect will be when the print is made. Many effects can be achieved in monotype that are not possible with any other technique.

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Copyright Darrell Madis, 2000

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