INTAGLIO

comes from the Italian word intagliare, meaning, “to incise.” In intaglio printing, an image is incised with a pointed tool or “bitten” with acid into a metal plate, usually copper or zinc. The plate is covered with ink and then wiped so that only the incised grooves contain ink. The plate and a dampened sheet of paper are then run through a press which applies pressure to create the print. Usually the paper sheet is larger than the plate so that the physical impress of the plate edges, or the platemark, shows on the paper. The ink on the print tends to be slightly raised above the surface of the paper.

The intaglio family of printmaking techniques includes engraving, drypoint, mezzotint, etching, aquatint, and spitbite aquatint.

 

DRYPOINT

prints are created by scratching a drawing into a metal plate with a needle or other sharp
tool. This technique allows the greatest freedom of line, from the most delicate hairline to the heaviest gash. In drypoint the burr is not scraped away from the surface but stays on the surface of the plate to print a velvety cloud of ink until it is worn away by repeated printings. Drypoint plates (particularly the burr on them) wear more quickly than etched or engraved plates and therefore allow for fewer satisfactory impressions and show far greater differences from first impression to last.

ENGRAVING

is a process in which a plate is marked or incised with a tool called a burin. A burn works on a copper plate like a plow on a field. As it is moved across the plate, copper shavings, called burr, are forced to either side of the lines being created and these are usually cleaned from the plate before inking. An engraved line may be deep or fine, has a sharp and clean appearance and tapers to an end. The process is slow and painstaking and generally produces formal-looking results.

MATRIX

From the Latin word mater, meaning mother, the matrix is a surface, a woodblock, a metal plate, a lithographic stone or a mesh screen for example, on which the image to be printed is prepared.

NUMBERING / EDITIONING

The numbering of individual impressions of prints can be found as early as the late nineteenth century. However, it did not become standard practice until the mid 1960’s. Today, all limited edition prints should be numbered, with the first number being the impression number and the second number representing the whole edition, thus 12/50, impression number 12 from an edition of 50. The numbering sequence does not necessarily reflect the order of printing; prints are not numbered as they come off the press but some time later, after the ink has dried. And one must keep in mind that the edition number does not include proofs (see proofs), but only the total in the numbered edition.

CHINE-COLLE

A method of printing in which an image is printed on a thin sheet of paper (usually a different color) and the thin sheet is mounted on a backing sheet during a single pass through the press. The term also describes the process of using a press to mount paper or other collage material such as cloth to a backing sheet, sometimes with printing, patters or designs on it.