MATERIALS AND METHODS
PRINTMAKING is a two-dimensional art form in which
an artist makes multiple impressions (duplicates) by creating
an image on a printing plate, applying ink to the plate, and
printing the image on paper. Prints are numbered and signed
— similar to limited edition collectors’ items — and each is
considered an original work of art.
Monoprinting is a form of printmaking which employs some of the
standard techniques, but produces only one original, instead of multiple
Unlike giclée and other digital photo processes that require computers
and inkjet printers, fine art prints are most often done by hand using a
Printmaking techniques have been used in book illustration, graphic
design, and advertising in addition to fine art. Woodcut and silkscreen
were used extensively during the Great Depression by artists in the Works
Progress Administration, and younger contemporary artists are enthusias-tically
carrying on the tradition.
The most common printmaking processes are silkscreen, intaglio,
lithography and relief.
Silkscreen is a stencil technique in which the screen is coated with
photo-sensitive emulsion. The “positive” (artwork rendered in black on a
plastic transparency) is placed against the screen, which is then exposed
to UV light. The emulsion hardens where the light hits it but remains soft
where it is blocked by the black design of the positive. The soft areas are
washed out with a hose, creating a stencil that can be printed onto paper,
fabric or other surfaces.
Intaglio (Italian for “engrave”) techniques are the opposite of relief in
that the ink adheres to the marks the artist cuts into the plate. Tradition-ally
done on copper, intaglio prints often look like pen and ink cross-hatched
drawings, often with great detail.
In the non-chemical techniques, artists incise lines into plates with tools
like drypoint needle and engraving burin. Drypoint marks tend to look
like pencil lines on rough paper, while engraving marks look more like pen
lines on smooth paper. Mezzotint is a beautiful but laborious process in
which the entire plate is roughened with a tool called a rocker to create a
solid black, then areas of lighter tones are created by smoothing the surface
with a burnisher, creating images akin to charcoal drawings.
Some intaglio techniques require the use of chemicals to eat into the
plate. To make these processes safer, traditional nitric acid has been
replaced with solutions such as ferric chloride, which do not produce
B y B e n B i l l i n g s l e y
Erica Westenberger silkscreens a design onto fabric at Aluna Works in
Chaotic Symmetry by Bob Bryden, 18 x 18 inches, mono-print
Heritage by Bob Bryden, 18 x 18 inches, monoprint on
Emergent Properties by Bob Bryden, 18 x 18 inches,
monoprint on paper. 47 www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com