Printmaking: What Is A Print

Three Bones Society produces and Sells Original Prints

On the left is a copperplate etching by   Eric K. Lerne r  and next to it a print on paper made by impressing the paper onto the inked plate.

On the left is a copperplate etching by Eric K. Lerner and next to it a print on paper made by impressing the paper onto the inked plate.

One of the biggest hurdles Three Bones Society faces is to educate the public what we mean by “a print.” As a printmaker, I have taken it for granted that people know what I am talking about when I say “print.’ Making them by hand is a regular activity for me. Now I am confronted by the challenge of trying to sell prints on-line, as opposed to through gallery exhibition or trade show. That’s proven very difficult, but one of the biggest surprises is how few people understand what I mean by “print”. The prevailing idea seems to be an image produced through a computer and printer. Calling what Thomas van der Krogt and I do fine art prints, does not work either. According to Google “fine art prints” now refer to digitally generated reproductions of artworks. The term Google chooses to describe what we sell at Three Bones Society I s “original prints.”

So for those of you who want to understand what we sell at Three Bones Society, this is the processes used to create our offerings:

  • The artist creates an original matrix by hand, typically through incising, carving, applying a stencil or applying chemicals to expose or enhance the effects of one of those physical acts.

  • Ink is applied to the matrix by hand:

  1. an intaglio wipe- the matrix is covered in ink which is then wiped away leaving ink in depressed areas of the matrix)

  2. a relief roll - ink is applied with a roller across raised surfaces of the matrix

  3. Squeegee - ink is forces through open areas of a mesh by manually running a squeegee over the ink to transfer it to a support

  4. Brush and fingers

  • The support, most often a premium grade paper, is imprinted with an image from the matrix by:

  1. dampened, placed over the matrix, and manually run through a printing press

  2. placed over a matrix and applying pressure by hand, spoon, barren or roller (and frequently a combination of these) to transfer ink to the paper

  3. receives ink squegeed through exposed areas of silk mesh screen

Thomas van der Krogt     often uses no traditional supports such as plexiglass to make his drypoints, as illustrated by this work in progress photo of his legendary   Walpurgis Nacht.

Thomas van der Krogt often uses no traditional supports such as plexiglass to make his drypoints, as illustrated by this work in progress photo of his legendary Walpurgis Nacht.

Preparing a matrix is a process that may spread across several days. Often a day may be devoted to tearing paper, preparing inks, taping off screens, setting up registration systems, etc. The work involves a fair amount of sweat equity. It requires time, skill, and planning to produce a single print! Also each print is an original work of art in itself.

Five types of prints are offered now at Three Bones Society.

  • Drypoint: - A printcreated by incising the support, a plate (copper, zinc, or plexi), by hand with a sharp tool and then ink

  • Etching - A print from a plate over which ground is applied and marked by hand. the plate. It is submersed in acid to etch. A number of different grounds and procedures may be used. Etching means the plate was incised at some point by acid.

  • Woodcut - A print fromcarved wood support. The image is produced by leaving raised (uncarved areas) to receive ink.

  • Silkscreen: A print made through pushing ink through exposed areas of a mesh frame. Open areas may be produced by hand cut stencils or photo exposure of an emulsified screen.

  • Monoprint: Any print that is produced in a manner which makes it a singular impression. For our purposes at Three Bones Society, this mostly refers to work produced on non-traditional matrixes, such as aluminum foil or gelatin, which because of their delicacy encourages differences between impressions.

So hopefully you understand that Thomas and I do not wiggle our noses, push on ok button, or leave a thumb drive at Kinkos when we make prints. We strive to original artworks in multiples.