Back in January I talked a bit about hand wiping intaglio plates. I have continued to use this approach and, like most things you practice, have gotten better at it. I was pulling a proof of a new engraving on acrylic in the studio today. The first photo shows the plate after it was wiped with the tarlatan. The objective here is to quickly remove the bulk of the ink. You make a ball with the tarlatan with the bottom pulled tight to make a smooth surface. Then you scuff at the surface with a gentle swirling motion. Most of the motion is in the wrist. I think of it as using the tarlatan to slice the ink off of the surface rather than wiping. If the weave on the tarlatan gets clogged with ink, refold the pad. I try not to wipe too far (as you can see there is still some ink on the surface). The marks on the plate are very full of ink, but the bulk of it is gone.
When I switch to the hand wipe, the motion changes. I use the fleshy pad on the heel of my palm and quickly and gently stroke the surface. The wrist is locked and the motion comes from the elbow. Take a couple of strokes and then wipe your hand on a cloth. If you get too much ink built up on your hand the ink tends to smear instead of coming off. As you pull the ink off the surface, watch for smears that indicate that you are pulling ink out of the marks. When this happens, I lighten the touch and turn the plate so that I am pushing the smears back towards the mark. I also use the ball of my palm at the base of the thumb, pushing away from me instead of pulling for delicate areas that need additional attention. A feather light touch is the key.
When things look pretty well cleaned up, I carefully wipe the edges of the plate with the rag (a rag works much better than a paper towel when doing this). If there are a few stray marks or a little too much plate tone, I put some baby powder (the talc kind, not cornstarch) on a flat surface and dip the heel of my hand into it. I then wipe it against my apron so that there is nearly none left. A couple more passes will pick up that tone. You are not wiping the plate with talc, you are using talc to dry your hand.


Here is the plate after the hand wipe. Acrylic wipes beautifully. The total time from from the first photo to the second for this small plate is about 1-2 minutes.