Printmaking as a form of fine arts
Printmaking is a form of fine arts in which the artwork is done mainly on paper. Unlike paintings which are unique and original pieces of artwork, with any copies being called reproductions, printmaking is a process with the help of which, one can produce several exact copies from a single piece of print, and all copies are originals in their own right. Just like paintings can be made on canvases as well as several other materials, prints are created on a single original surface called matrix. A matrix is usually a plate made up of metal. These plates are usually made up of copper or zinc. They are used for the purpose of engraving and are also used in lithography. Blocks of wood, linoleum, and fabric plates for screen printing are also commonly used materials. Prints are also published in the form of books. There are many different kinds of printmaking techniques. These are:-
Woodcut: This is a type of relief printing. It was traditionally used in countries of Far East. In the 5th century it was used in China, for the purpose of printing on pages and paper. In 1400, woodcut images appeared on paper in Europe. In this form of printmaking, the artist draws a sketch on a wood-piece or plank. It is then handed over to a specialist cutter. The cutter cuts away the parts which are not required. Then the raised portions of the block are inked with a brayer and a slightly damp paper is placed over it. It is then rubbed with a spoon or run through a press. A print is thus obtained.
Engraving: The process was first invented in Germany for metalwork decoration by goldsmiths. Traditionally copper plates were engraved. In order to make a print, the entire metal plate is engraved. After this has been done, the ink is wiped off and an ink line is obtained along the engraving. The plate is later on placed beneath a high pressure printing press, along with a moist sheet of paper to get the print.
Etching: This was invented by Daniel Hopfer of Germany who used to decorate armors with this method. This was later applied to printmaking. Etching is different from woodcutting since the crevices are inked. Moreover, it is easier than woodcutting. A metal like copper or zinc is first waxed. Then fine lines are drawn, so that wax is removed from the unwanted surface. It is then dipped in an acidic solution. The acid corrodes the exposed surface, leaving behind the original engraved lines. The remaining wax is then removed. It is then inked and passed through a high pressure printing press to obtain the print.
Other forms of printing are Drypoint, Aquatint, Lithography and screen printing. Nowadays digital printing is also available, which uses a standard desktop printer. It is the easiest form of printing.
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