PrintMaking Techniques

Printmaking techniques

Woodcut

Woodcut is a relief printmaking technique. This means that the surface of the wood holds the ink and the artist carves away the areas that will not hold ink. My woodcuts are carved out of a shina plywood. This wood is exported from Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan. This wood carves very easily, holds sharp edges and it is practically grainless. This allows me to carve in any direction without worrying about the direction of the grain in the wood.

Shina Wood

Linocut

Linocut is also a relief printmaking technique. These type of prints are carved from linoleum, an industrial material used primarily to make flooring. This material is made from linseed oil and powdered cork. Linoleum is easy to carve and can be carved in any direction. However, due to the brittleness of the material, fine detail is not easy to achieve.

Linoleum

Reduction Relief Prints

These type of prints can be made with either wood or linoleum. Reduction prints allow an artist to work with multiple colors using one piece of wood or linoleum. Layers are created by carving away areas, printing the plate and carving again. An edition made using the reduction process cannot be replicated since the process of making the print destroys the matrix.

Intaglio

Intaglio is a family of techniques used to create prints on metal. Typically multiple intaglio techniques are used to create a piece. I use copper to create intaglio prints and work primarily with drypoint, etching, and aquatint. 

Drypoints are created by carving directly into the copper with an etching needle. The needle creates grooves in the copper called burrs that hold the ink. The burrs create a rich black soft line.

Etchings are made using an acid called ferric chloride. The surface of a plate is covered with an acid resistant coating made from asphaltum, rosin, and beeswax. An etching needle is then used to reveal the copper so that the acid bites into the plate. The time spent in the acid will determine the weight of the line. The line made using a hard ground is dense and sharp.

Aquatints are also made using ferric chloride. This technique allows the artist to create tones and shading that look like watercolors.  The surface of the copper plate is covered with a fine layer of rosin that is melted onto the plate using a flame torch. The rosin is acid resistant and the time spent in the acid will determine the density of the ink.

Gampi Chine-collé

Gampi is a thin translucent Japanese paper made from the gampi bush. The Gampi bush grows wild in the mountainous, warm areas of Japan and cannot be cultivated. This paper is considered the best Japanese paper for its strength and for its ability to capture the most subtle details.

Chine-collé is a collage technique that allows an artist to make a print using multiple papers. I print my intaglio prints using gampi chine-collé because the paper captures every detail in an aquatint. To print using gampi I first place the paper in a water bath. I then submerge the inked etched plate in a water bath and position the gampi on top of the plate. I do this because the gampi paper must be wet prior to printing. I then remove the excess water using a very soft brush and finally sprinkle wheat paste on the paper. I sometimes use Jin Shofu paste instead of the wheat paste. The gampi is adhered to a larger sheet of paper when it passes through the etching press.