What is a Print?

With the advent of electronic media and the popularity of experimental photo processes, this question inevitably opens up a can of worms to the traditionalist. In all cases a print is an image that is created on one surface to be transferred to another. Following is a brief description of the most common terms.
Methods of printing:

Intaglio: when ink is forced into grooves and textures on the plate and the surface is then wiped, leaving ink in the depressions. The pressure of the press forces the ink out of the grooves, leaving a raised line.

Relief: when ink is rolled onto the surface of the plate leaving lines and textures inkless. The printing process requires less pressure. The following types of prints can usually be printed by either method, but are listed under the most common :

Etching: From the German "essen" (to eat). Using acid to bite into the plate where it is not covered by an acid resistant coating (usually asphaltum -based).

Aquatint: Usually refers to small particles of rosin which are dusted onto the plate's surface and heated till they adhere. Areas exposed to the acid create "half-tones".

Drypoint: A sharp instrument is used to scratch into the plate without the use of acid. The raised burr holds the ink creating a "soft" line quality. Drypoints do not hold up well in printing editions.

Engraving: A "burin"(flat faced steel tool) is used to directly carve lines into the plate without the use of acid.

Mezzotint: A fine ridged multiple-line "rocker" is used to roughen up the plate, reating a rich over-all tone from which the whites are brought out through the use of a burnisher and scraper.

Woodcut: Done with gouges on the plank grain of wood. Grain is a consideration.

Wood Engraving: Done with gravers on the end grain of wood.

Collograph: The surface is built up in layers using glue as in a collage.

Linocut: Gouges are used to cut areas away in linoleum. More loosely curved areas are possible than with woodcut which is more dependent on grain.

The Planographic method of printing depends on the natural antipathy between water and grease. Lithography, a planographic process, is done on a slab of limestone or on an aluminum or paper "plate" using a greasy pencil, crayon or ink (tousche). A nitric acid and gum arabic solution is applied with a sponge, etching the exposed areas. The surface is dampened before rolling ink onto it with a roller and the greasy areas resist the water while accepting the ink.

A Serigraph, or silkscreen is created by blocking out areas of the screen with a glue solution, allowing ink to be squeegeed through the uncoated areas.

A Monoprint is a one-of-a-kind print with one aspect remaining consistent in subsequent prints. For example, an etched plate may serve as the basis for freely painted color and the image will come through though each print is different.

A Monotype is a truly one-of-a-kind print. For example, ink may be applied to a clean, unworked surface and through the removal of the ink an image may emerge. No part of the image can be replicated.

[Home] [Gallery]

[Glossary] [Calendar] [Links] [Board Members] [History] [Info] [Member App]

Contact Us