Bevere Gallery and The Arts Society Worcester have been working in collaboration to stage this second exhibition of Printmaking.
In a world where digital reproductive techniques are commonplace the ‘print’ is sometimes regarded as a cheap reproduction of an ‘original’ piece of art. Original Printmaking however is the process of creating by hand multiple versions of an original piece of art created solely for making prints. The print is the original and there will be a number of them that will differ slightly as they are printed individually.
We hope that by increasing awareness of the time, technical skill and ingenuity required to produce original prints we will be able to share with visitors our love and appreciation of these most fascinating works of art.
Techniques of Printmaking 2022
In last year’s exhibition we explored the difference between the two traditional forms of Printmaking – showing examples of wood engraving and linocut (relief techniques), engraving, dry point and etching (all intaglio).
In this year’s exhibition we include another intaglio technique – mezzotint and a print technique that can be either intaglio or relief– collagraphy. We also introduce two planographic techniques lithography and screen print.
Planographic techniques are those in which the printing surface is flat rather than raised (relief) or incised (intaglio). To the viewer intaglio prints are easily distinguished because of the plate mark created during the printing process. Planographic prints are harder to tell apart but a screen print may be distinguishable from a lithograph by the weave pattern of the screen if impressed onto the surface of the ink or by the heavy charge of ink transferred to the paper.
Mezzotint is a form of intaglio printing that was invented in the 17th century. It was enhanced and disseminated by Charles I’s nephew Prince Rupert. He invented a tool called a rocker with multiple small teeth that if ‘rocked’ over the surface of the plate in all directions gradually built up a surface covered in tiny dots. The more times the rocker moves across the surface the finer the haze of dots and the darker the prints. Scrapers and burnishing tools are used to create the design on the incised metal creating lighter areas which hold less or no ink during the printing process. This allows for a subtle variation and gradation of tone that approaches that achieved by drawing and painting. The mezzotint artists in this exhibition are Roger Harris and Debby Mason. Roger creates coloured mezzotints by aligning three colour plates with the monotone master.
Collagraphy involves sticking different substances on to a board to create a variety of textures which when inked produce prints of endless variety. The word comes from the same stem ‘colla-’ meaning glue as in ‘collage’. The surface may be raised using glue, textiles, carborandum, sticky tape, plaster, animal or vegetable matter (eg feathers and leaves) and textured paper such as embossed wallpaper. The surface of the board may be incised to create dark areas of ink. This therefore is a technique that may combine relief and intaglio elements in the same print. The artists submitting collagraphs for this exhibtion are Karen Wicks, Sue Brown, Hester Cox and Tessa Horrocks.
Screen printing (also called silkscreen or serigraph) was originally developed as a technique for printing designs onto fabric using a template stencil. First used in China around 900 AD the technique was adapted in Japan to use human hair instead of silk. Dyes or paint would be pushed through the mesh using a firm brush with parts of the field blocked out to create the design. An extension of this method in the early 20th Century used silk and then synthetic materials for the mesh and a rubber squeegee (abit like a windscreen wiper). The squeegee pushes the ink through the mesh whilst wiping away any ink that the remains above it. These days most stencils are produced photographically using a UV light sensitive emulsion. The emulsion covers the mesh on a frame. An acetate image of the design – the ‘positive’- is put under the mesh and then the mesh is exposed to UV light. This fixes and hardens the emulsion except where the light is blocked by the design. In these areas the still soft emulsion can be washed away creating the stencil of the design. A print with multiple colours is built up using a series of meshes prepared and inked separately which superimpose the image. The screen print artists in this exhibition are Jacqui Dodds, Clive Hicks-Jenkins and Carry Akroyd.
Lithography (‘litho’- Stone) was invented in 1798 in Munich by Alois Senefelder using limestone blocks from the Solnhofen region in Bavaria. This very smooth limestone is used as a drawing surface. The design is marked onto the stone using a greasy crayon or a crayon based ink wash called tusche. The image is fixed on the surface of the stone using a combination of gum arabic and nitric acid. The design is then washed off leaving a ghost like image on the surface of the stone. There remains sufficient grease from the design material within the stone that when an inked roller is passed over the wetted stone only the greasy areas attract the ink whilst the rest of the wet stone repels it. Paper is then laid on top of the stone and the press passed over it to create the print. Multiple colours are obtained from using two or more stones – one for each colour. The lithographs in this exhibition have been created by Bronwen Sleigh and Chloë Cheese.