Glossary

Modern Masters

Established Artists

Recognized Artists

Emerging Artists

Aquatint – A form of intaglio in which the metal plate is dusted or covered with acid-resisitant powder (rosin or asphaltum). Areas not covered by the coating when the plate is immersed in acid are etched, creating a pitted or grainy surface. These tonal areas can be further manipulated and are often used in conjunction with line etching.

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Baren – A handheld burnishing tool traditionally used in Japanese printmaking. Constructed of bamboo and laquered paper, this slightly convex tool is about five inches in diameter and is used to apply pressure to the paper when using woodblock and woodcut techniques. Rubbing the baren over the back of the paper transfers the ink from the block to the paper.

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Bite – The etching or corrosion produced on a metal plate when it is submerged in an acid bath.

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Brayer – A hand roller used to apply ink to a printing surface.

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Burnish – In intaglio printing, the process of rubbing or smoothing the raised metal surface of the plate, using a metal tool to compact teh tooth of the printing surface. It is used in mezzotint to create the whites and is sometimes used as a method to correct mistakes. In relief printing, burnishing refers to the printing process, in which an image is transferred from an inked block to paper by hand rubbing.

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Burnisher – A curved hand tool used for smoothing or polishing the plate in the intaglio process. In relief printing, it can be any tool used to print an inked surface by rubbing.

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Chine Collé – A chine appliqué or chine collé is a print in which the image is impressed onto a thin sheet of China paper which is backed by a stronger, thicker sheet. China paper takes an intaglio impression more easily than regular paper, so chine appliqué prints generally show a richer impression than standard prints. Proof prints are often done as chine appliqués.

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Dremel – A motorized hand tool with different types of attachments, used for carving into wood or metal.

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Drypoint – Drawing directly on the copper plate with a sharp point creates a rough ridge of metal–a burr–along the furrow. When the plate is inked, the burr catches the ink, producing dark, velvety accents.

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Edition
A set of identical impressions produced serially from the same plate. Editioned prints are sequentially numbered, with the total number of prints written below the individual print number.

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Embossing – An inkless technique used to create a slightly raised or three-dimensional effect by using pressure on a flat surface so that the paper takes on the physical characteristics of the relief plate or block.

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Engraving – Lines are incised into a copper plate with a burin. The curls of copper thrown up at the sides of the furrow are cleaned away with a scraper.

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Etching – An intaglio process that uses acid to bite an image into a metal plate. The plate is coated with an acid-resistant emulsion or ground, through which the image is drawn or scratched with a needle. The plate is then placed in an acid bath that penetrates or bites into the exposed areas, creating the depressions that will hold the ink.

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Gouge – A tool used for cutting into a wood or linoleum block. Points of various sizes and shapes can be used to create a V – or U – shaped groove.

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Ground – A waxy or resinous substance that resists the acid used in intaglio processes.

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Handmade Paper – The traditional technique of papermaking, in which a selected fiber (cotton, linen, or another plant fiber) is macerated and then suspended in water to form a pulpy liquid, or slurry. The slurry is contained in a vat. A wood framed mesh screen in lowered into the vat. When lifted from the vat, the screen is shaken as the water drains off to acheive an even distribution of fibers. The pulp can also be applied to the screen by hand. This formed sheet is then dried by air, so the sheet contracts, or in a press, using different backings to create varied effects.

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Hard Ground – An acid-resistant substance used in etching that contains asphaltum, beeswax, and rosin.

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Intaglio – Images are produced by ink held in recessed areas of the printing plate. Intaglio methods include aquatint, engraving, etching, mezzotint, and spitbite.

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Linoleum Cut or Linocut – A relief print in which the image has been carved from a surface of battleship linoleum (a soft linoleum with no grain), usually mounted on wood.

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Lithography – The planographic printing method in which an image is drawn, using greasy ink or litho crayons, directly on the flat surface of a limestone or aluminum plate treated to accept ink and repel water. The image is fixed to the surface by a coating of acid and gum arabic, which lightly etches the stone or plate, not altering the height of depth of the stone. This mixture enhances the ability of the sections of the stone or plate that are not drawn on to hold water. During printing, the plate or stone is kept wet at all times by sponging. Oil-based ink is then rolled over the surface. The wetness of the negative areas of the plate rejects the ink, ensuring that the ink will stick only to the drawing. Images are transferred from plate to paper by means of a press.

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Matrix – The physical, ink-holding base from which the print image is derived, such as an etching plate, lithography stone, or woodblock.

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Mezzotint – Meaning “half-tint” or “half-tone”, it is the mechanical intaglio technique in which an entire metal plate is roughened to create a burr that holds ink, producing a dark background. The artist works from dark to light, using a rocker to burnish or smooth the surface to create areas that hold less ink. In this way, a full range of tones is produced. Because this method is so labor-intensive, mezzotints are usually small. This printing process, though relatively uncommon today, was widely used for portraiture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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Monotype – Ink or paint is applied to a smooth plate. Because there is no fixed matrix, only one strong impression can be printed.

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Mylar – A transparent plastic sheet used for registration of the print or as a surface for an image to be drawn on in order to transfer the drawing to the plate photographically. Mylar is specifically used for these purposes because it is dimensionally stable, not stretching or shrinking when exposed to water.

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Planographic – Images are produced on a flat printing surface, using chemicals to adhere ink to areas of the surface. lithography is the preeminent example of planographic printing.

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Pochoir – A French term for hand-coloring a print using a stencil.

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Progressive Proofs – A series of trial prints showing each color separately, that are made in preparation for a multicolor print.

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Publishing – The relationship between an artist and publisher in which the publisher funds a print edition in exchange for a percentage of the profits. The publisher may be involved in the printing process or may hire someone to execute the edition.

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Reduction Block – A type of relief print made by alternately cutting and printing the same block, working from lighter to darker colors.

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Registration – The precise alignment of the paper and printing plates-for example, when printing multiple colors-to ensure that each successive impression aligns correctly.

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Relief – Images are produced on raised printing surface. Linocut, woodblock, and woodcut are all relief printing processes.

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Resist – The substance applied to a printing ground to prevent adhesion or another substance, such as ink.

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Rocker – A steel tool with a serrated, curved front edge used in mezzotint to abrade the surface of the plate.

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Silk Screen – A form of stencil printing in which an image is produced by using a squeegee to push ink through a stretched mesh fabric (historically silk). Nonprinted areas of the screen are blocked off using a resist.

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Soft Ground – A method of etching in which a nondrying or pliable acid-resistant ground is applied to a plate that produces softer lines and textures than hard-ground etching. The artist draws on a piece of paper placed over the plate. The pressure of the pencil or pen lifts the ground off the plate, exposing the plate for etching in acid.

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Spitbite – An aquatint method in which nitric acid is applied directly to the etching plate with a brush coated with water or saliva to help control the acid.

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Squeegee – A tool with a handle and a broad, hard rubber or plastic blade used to push the ink through the screen when producing silk-screen prints.

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State Proofs – The series of trial prints that are made after each stage in the printing process, from start to finish. Any stage in the development of a print at which impressions are taken. A change of state occurs only with the addition or removal of lines on a plate.

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Stencil – Image are printed by pushing ink through the cut-away areas of a stencil. Types of stencil printing including pochoir and screen printing, or silk screen (also called serigraphy).

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Ukiyo-e – The classic Japanese form of woodblock printing, historically used for making large quantitiies of popular images. In this type of relief printing, many individual blocks of wood are carved, often by a professional woodcutter, and then fitted together to form the printing surface. The use of water-based inks results in delicate, translucent colors similar to the effects of watercolor painting. The printing paper is placed on top of the inked blocks, and an impression is made by hand rubbing wiht a baren, rather than using a press.

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Vignette – A vignette is an image that does not have a definite border around it. This term also applies to a small image that is part of a larger print.

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Woodblock – The incised wooden plank or shaped wood blocks that hold the ink from which a woodcut is printed.

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Woodcut – The oldest form of relief printing, in which portions of a woodblock are cut away using knives, gouges, and chisels. Ink is rolled over the elevated areas of the block, and absorbent paper is pressed onto the surface, transferring the image.

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