Saturday, February 19, 2011

Printmaking for Beginners

Basic Printmaking:
People of all ages and abilities can enjoy printmaking. There are several materials that are suitable for the beginner printmaker.  Household objects are a great way to introduce the basics of printmaking.  Objects such as sponges, plastic & glass bottles, rolling pins, mesh, string, wool, whisks, bubble wrap, bulldog clips, cardboard, crumpled or folded paper can all provide appreciation for the nature of things that surround us.

Original vs Edition Prints 
Original prints are one-of-a-kind prints in which the artist personally conceived an image, created a master plate and executed the entire printing process.   

Limited edition prints are identical prints of the same limited production edition, numbered in sequence. A maximum number of copies is stated. Fortunately, limited edition prints are lower in cost and provide appreciation for the original. 

Methods of Printing

This method of printmaking is inexpensive, direct and exciting.  This method allows total freedom of mark-making while offering the qualities of a printmaking process.  No press is necessary and this method produces one unique print which is usually carried out in a single printing.  

Relief Printing
This is the oldest form of printmaking and accessible to everyone, even those without a press.  In relief printmaking, the uppermost surface of the material is inked-up, and printed from, as with a rubber stamp.  The cut marks below the surface do not receive any ink and therefore will not print.  Some of the materials used in this method are linoleum (soft & hard), cardboard, hardboard, fibreboard (MDF), cork, plastic, vinyl, potato and all sorts of found objects.  

Intaglio Printing
This method is the direct opposite of the relief process; ink is transferred onto the paper from the lower levels of the plate.  Etching, aquatint, engraving, mezzotint and drypoint are all intaglio processes.  It is vital to have access to a press to carry out any sort of intaglio print. 

This is a relatively new method of printmaking using a variety of textured materials stuck on to a cardboard base to create a low relief block.  The block is inked-up like an intaglio plate and printed on an etching press. 

This is a printmaking process that can be carried out in a low-tech fashion at home.  Screenprinting is a stencil method, where ink is dragged across a mesh, allowing it to print onto the paper in selected areas only. Commercially, it is used for textiles, signage and ceramics. 

Stobart, Jane.  Printmaking for Beginners.  (New York:  Watson-Guptill Publications), 2001

To discover more about Printmaking Terms & Techniques
"What is a Print" Interactive site
Printmaking for Kids
The Warhol Online Screenprinting
Speedball Art Lessons

History of Printmaking
Fine Art Printmaking History 
The Printed Image in the West: History and Techniques


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