Scribe, Copper and Fury

August 17, 2010 at 11:07 am 4 comments

I’ve been in the studio in brief and sparse bursts and while I haven’t come close to accomplishing the number of projects I had hoped to by this time, I am very proud of what I have created. I’ve been working on drypoint printmaking. It’s a time consuming and laborious effort (but not prohibitively so) both from the artist’s and printer’s perspective. The end result, however, is unlike anything else, even among prints.

These are not copies of existing images on paper but the result of a completely print-based effort. The image is engraved into a copper plate by hand with a diamond tipped scribe. That plate is, in a sense, the original image. Each plate is then inked and prepped by hand for each pressing of each individual image. Because of this, each image in an edition is unique. The ink is captured in the burs and grooves engraved into the plate and with all the excess wiped clean, the image is all that remains. Because of the softness of the plate and the immense amount of pressure from the press, the plate degrades fairly quickly until the image is barely discernible on the plate’s surface. While some might see this as a drawback, I appreciate that it keeps editions to a tidy limit. I’ve always had a problem with people charging top dollar for digital color copies that can be printed and reprinted endlessly. With these prints, if there is a run of six, someone can essentially walk a way with one-sixth of the original.

The printing was handled by Chad Andrews who operates a pair of antique presses under the name Paper +. As the printer is not just duplicating the image but interpreting it, a working relationship has to be established that allows for the artist to understand the process and the printer to understand the artist’s vision. I think we’ve reached a good understanding of each other’s dialect in the overlapping languages of art and printmaking.

Both the process and image are a welcome departure from  what I’ve been doing with pen, ink and watercolor and while I don’t expect or intend to get away from watercolors entirely, it’s a nice switch for a while. When time permits, I can see myself going back and forth between the two and seeing how one informs the other.

These prints will be available for purchase directly from me in very limited quantities at the Roc City Tattoo Expo (Aug 20-22) and Absorb Music Festival (Aug 28). If there are any left after these events, I can be contacted directly about purchasing them.

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I’m Still Here It’s Just Like You’re One of Us (But With a Steel Strap and a GPS).

4 Comments

  • 1. Moss Bliss  |  August 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    I did some work with copper as a kid. I don’t know why it was short-lived. Might have been a church project, or one my parents decided was too expensive to pursue. That’s great stuff! Hope you make loads of money at it. (I know, starving artists and all that… maybe you can fake dying so you get the Dead Artist price bump…)

  • 2. BetaSheep  |  August 19, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    You forgot to mention that the image on the plate is backwards from what is printed on the paper. Correct?

    I’ve always had a fascination for coin collecting. It always blew my mind that the die engravers had to engrave a backwards image and lettering on the die in order to stamp a readable image on the planchet. This is something I could never imagine being able to do.

    • 3. abellve  |  August 20, 2010 at 9:56 am

      Absolutely, yes. It’s odd drawing and refining an image one way on paper and then engraving the reverse. I haven’t had occasion to incorporate lettering yet but I bet it gets interesting!

  • 4. Michelle  |  August 24, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Hello,
    Nice to see a new post from you :)
    These are wonderful prints. I love owls, so that’s my favorite, but I think they’re all great.
    I had a friend in the mountains who printed on paper and wood with an old printing press. I was amazed at how he knew what the image would look like beforehand. We had fun creating Christmas paper one year.
    I can certainly appreciate the time you put in to these pieces. Thank you for sharing them.


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