Techniques

At BAP we offer facilities for a range of hand printmaking, including intaglio, relief and screenprinting.

Etching

Etching involves a number of stages and is a much more technical process than monoprinting and drypointing. You start with a copper or zinc plate which has a thin acid-resistant coating called a ground. The image is carefully scratched through the ground exposing the metal beneath. When the plate is dipped into a week solution of acid the acid eats away at the exposed metal creating a thin groove. The plate is then cleaned, inked-up and printed in a similar manner to a drypoint. Many impressions can be taken from an etching.

Aquatinting involves fusing a very fine dust made from ground shellac onto the metal plate. When the plate is dipped in acid the acid attacks the exposed metal giving an even tone. Line etching and aquatint are often combined on the same plate.

Alternative less-toxic methods such as saline sulphate etching of aluminium or zinc plates using acrylic resists are actively encouraged.

Drypoint

With a drypoint, the image is scratched into the printing plate, traditionally copper or zinc although Perspex can be used, using steel points. The plate is then inked-up ensuring that ink goes into all the scratches, then the ink is carefully rubbed off leaving just the inked lines. The plate and paper are then run through the press and the impression made. A number of impressions can be taken from each plate, giving you an edition.

Monoprinting

The simplest form of printing involves rolling a thin layer of ink onto a flat surface, laying a piece of paper on top and drawing or rubbing on the paper. Ink from the plate is transferred to the paper wherever the pressure is applied. No press is required, but only one image can be produced.

A second method is to apply ink directly to the plate using brushes, cloths, etc. and take a print by running the plate and paper through the press.  Again, only one impression can be made.  A variation on this technique is to roll a thin layer of ink of a bevelled printing plate and rub the ink off using cloths and cotton buds to create the image. The plate and pre-soaked paper are then put through the press and the image is transferred to the paper. In this case the finished print is called a monotype.


Chine Colle

Chine Colle is when tissue or thin papers, traditionally Chinese or Japanese (hence the Chine), are used to add colour and or texture to a print. The papers can be cut to the size of the whole design or can just be added in places, leaving the supporting paper to show through. Small areas of paper can be layered to overlap each other. Once the plate is inked and wiped, the tissue or Japanese papers are added and the plate can be rolled through the press, bonding the papers together.

You can re-ink the plate and try different coloured papers in different shapes to create unique monoprints from one plate.

Mezzotint

An engraving technique, invented in 1642, where the metal plate is indented by rocking a toothed metal tool all over. Each pit can carry ink, and at this stage, the print would be solid black. The indentations are gradually burnished to reduce the ink-holding pits so an infinite number of tones can be created from solid black to pure white (where the plate is smooth and cannot hold any ink).

Woodcut

A print taken from a relief block of wood cut lengthways with the grain.

Wood engraving

A print taken from a block of wood cut end or cross grain.

Collagraph

A print, intaglio and/or relief, taken from a collaged block or plate. A backing plate of metal, board, plastic, card or wood forms the base and any materials such as cut-out shapes, found objects, organic substances are glued to the base. Work can be drawn in glue, modelling paste, acrylic gel paste or gesso to which may be added carborundum grit, sand etc. to give tooth to printing ink.

Lino

A flooring material developed in the 19th century made by hydrogenated linseed oil rolled on to a base of hessian. Lino is an easier and cheaper substitute for wood blocks, and is often used in school. It is relief printed after the image is cut out using different shaped angled blades. The print can be taken by applying pressure using a roller or, more successfully, by putting the plate and paper through a press. Wendy Batt has produced a lovely series of cards with pictures of Bath’s buildings in lino, and Rosemary Farrer also uses lino to great effect.