The plate is used to make intaglio prints. The method is very similar to an etching and requires a good quality etching press.
The plate is made from metalized card. There is a film of metal on card that is adhered so that the artist can cut in to the metal and remove areas or just leave the dry point line. These revealed areas are the areas that will take ink and therefore print. As well as this process the artist can adhere further detail using anything that comes to hand. You can put more metalized card on to the plate or you can use collage of any sort. I have used fabrics, foils, strings and textured cards.
For the printing process the plate must be very durable, it is worked on with quite a lot of vigour as you apply oil based printing inks that are very sticky. These inks have to be worked into the plate so that all the texture is covered. The inks are then rubbed off to reveal the details that the artist is interested in. The process takes some time and a lot of energy. This process is repeated for every print that is taken from that plate.
I do about 5 prints and then leave the plate to dry. The plate becomes impregnated with the oily inks and is also compressed with the high pressure from the printing press. The plate becomes harder in the process.
This is repeated until I have printed up to 25 prints from the plate, although I usually stop at about 12. The inks from the very last print are left on the plate, enhanced a little, and left to dry. This can then be worked on with glazes to make the inks luminous and give it all depth.
The process takes time and produces a very firm, tough, compressed plate that has various layers of hardened oil paints/inks.