Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Printing Process

I use an etching press to make most of my prints. This is a mechanical process used in the 17th century by Rembrandt. Here are photos of a student at Suffolk County Community College pulling prints from a solarplate.
Inking and wiping the plate
After the plate is made, it is inked. The ink is pushed into the recessed areas and wiped from the surface, where the print will be white. The plate is placed on the bed of the press with a piece of dampened printmaking paper over it. The blankets (or felts) are placed on top, and the wheel is turned so that the press bed travels through the rollers. The pressure can be something like 1,500 lbs. per square inch!
pulling the print
The blankets help to push the paper into the recessed areas where the ink is transferred to the paper. In the second photo, you see the blankets thrown back over the roller of the press, and the print is being pulled from the plate.

If you want to see etchings from the 17th through 19th century, now is a good time. There are etchings by Rembrandt, Goya, Degas and Cassatt currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Contemporary etchings are on view at the Museum of Modern Art. For those of you who don't go to museums often, remember that not all works owned by a museum are on view. The exhibit is constantly changing. If you want to see a specific work of art, check the museum's website to see what is on display.

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