A la poupee print: One of the earliest methods of color printing using intaglio. The print is created when multiple colored inks are applied directly into separate areas of a plate’s surface, and worked into the appropriate area of the design using cotton daubs called dollies, or in French, poupee. The colored print is the result of a single printing operation.
Antique print: All prints printed and published 100 years ago or more, are usually considered antique prints. A modern reproduction of an old print, or a restrike from an original plate, are not considered antique.
Aquatint: This process was invented by the Frenchman, Jean Baptiste Le Prince, in 1768. It is a method in which a uniform tone is produced on an etched plate by the intaglio process, the effects being similar to a wash. The surface of the plate is dusted with a porous ground such as fine rosin or asphalt powder, which when heated, adheres to the plate. The parts of the plate intended to appear white are then covered by a protective varnish. The treated plate is placed in an acid bath, which bites into the copper areas that are exposed between the grains of resin or not protected by varnish, yielding a composition marked by texture and tone. This process of protection by varnish and biting is repeated until the desired range of tints is achieved. Only an aquatint can create even tones without gradation or blending; the characteristic aquatint grain is easy to recognize (in the finest cases under a microscope). Aquatinting is often used in conjunction with the etching process.
As issued: As originally published.
Blind stamp: A blind stamp is an embossed seal impressed without ink onto a print as a distinguishing mark by the artist, the publisher, an institution, or a collector.
Block: A block is a piece of wood used as a matrix for woodcuts or wood engravings.
Bleed-through: Refers to when ink from the text printed on the verso bleeds through onto the image side.
Burin: This tool is used to engrave images on either a metal plate or a wooden block. A burin is a narrow metal tool whose cross-section is either oval, triangular, or square. It is cut obliquely at the point, and the handle is usually wooden.
Chiaroscuro woodcut: A technique for printing woodcuts in color, perfected in the early sixteenth century, and used mainly by sixteenth and seventeenth century printmakers to produce a color wash style. One or more wood blocks, in two or more colors or tones were used. It was probably the first imitation of chiaroscuro drawings, in which the design is drawn in black on toned or colored paper and the highlights are touched in with white pigment.
Chine appliqué: A method of adhering one sheet of material, often thin paper, to another with glue under pressure.
Chine collie print: A chine colle is a print in which the image is impressed onto a thin sheet of paper, originally China paper, which is backed by a stronger, thicker sheet, and at the same time, printing it. This can be accomplished by both intaglio and lithographic printing methods. China paper takes an intaglio impression more easily than regular paper, so chine appliqué prints generally show a richer impression than standard prints.
Chromolithographs: A lithograph printed in at least three colors.
Color relief print and color woodcut: It is unusual to ink a wood block in more than one color, and so a color relief print often uses as many blocks as it has colors. The usual method is to make a key block.
Copperplate Engraving: A copper engraving is an image taken from an engraved copper plate. A plate of bright, burnished copper that is usually 16 or 18 gauge, is used. The copper plate is first coated with a ground, then the image is traced with a sharp point or needle. Once the image is traced, the ground is removed. To ensure accurate engraving, the copper plate oftentimes is rested in sand. Using the traced lines, an artist uses a burin to engrave onto the copper plate. Metal shavings are cut away by the burin. These shavings, known as “burr”, while removed from the plate must still be detached by a “scraper,” a cutting tool. The deeper the burin cuts, the stronger the engraved lines are when printed. Once the plate has been engraved, it is ready to be used for printing by warming it, inking it, and then passing it through a press with the sheet of paper that is to be printed. Copper engraving developed as early as the fourteenth century. Some early examples of copper engraving from Italy and Germany date around 1440. The process used for copper engraving may have come about by armourers using metal engraved patterns to decorate their armor. The first uses of copper engravings were for religious images and playing cards. During the 1600s and 1700s, copperplate engravings were used in a widespread fashion for illustrated works, particularly in France and England. Copper engraving remained the standard up until the l770’s, when wood engraving was developed.
Counterproofs: In printmaking, when a sheet of paper is laid over the top of a wet print and passed through a press while the ink is still wet, it will produce an impression that is reversed and a little fainter. This impression can be used by the artist to make corrections and changes to the work. Termed a counterproof, it is produced the same way round as the matrix, that is, back to front.
Crible or stippled background: A relief technique in which shaped punches are used to hammer indentations into a block or plate. It is a technique that evolved around 1450. Where recesses were required over a large surface, the wood was not cut or notched, but perforated with awls to produce a sort of “shotgun” effect. As side-grain wood could not be effectively worked with awls and a graver, plates of soft metal such as alloys of tin, lead, and copper were used. Of some interest among metal cuts is the dotted cut, or crible, in which the metal was cut with a goldsmith’s punches so that the background print had a sort of spotted look.
Deckle: The detachable wooden frame around the outside edges of a hand mold used in making paper.
Deckle edge: The rough untrimmed edge of paper left by a deckle (see above).
Drawing: A classification consisting of watercolors, gouache, charcoal, pastel, pencil, pen and ink, crayon, or a mixed media of any two or more of the above mediums used together.
Dry point: A technique in which marks are made directly onto the metal plate with a sharp, pointed, steel needle. As the needle scratches the plate, a burr of scraped metal forms around the edges of the line. The burr is not taken away as in line engraving, and therefore it retains the ink. When printed, a very delicate, velvety shading occurs around the edges of the lines. This is characteristic of the dry point technique, but it wears off quickly in the printing, often times only lasting for twenty to thirty impressions. Dry points are often still made in the traditional manner onto a copperplate. This process can easily be confused with etching.
Edition: An edition of a print includes all the impressions published at the same time, or as part of the same publishing event. A first edition print is one which was issued with the first published group of impressions. First edition prints are sometimes pre-dated by a proof edition. Editions of a print should be distinguished from states of a print. There can be several states of a print from the same edition, and there can be several editions of a print all with the same state.
Engraving: Engraving involves the use of a metal plate or wooden block. Upon the surface of this incised metal plate or wooden block, an image or text has been either etched or cut with a graver or sharp burin. In the case of a metal plate, the plate is placed on a leather, sand-filled bag during cutting to allow the cutter easier movement. The action of the graver on the plate produces a groove in the metal plate; at the edges of this groove, a characteristic raised shaving of metal occurs called a burr. In an engraving, the burr is usually removed with a triple-edged scraper and burnished. The process of transferring the image/text from the plate to the print involves a few steps. First, the plate is inked, then using a wringer-washer type press, it is printed on dampened paper. The heavy pressure of the press pushes the paper into the engraved lines, which forces the ink onto the paper off of the plate. In relief engraving, the lines engraved are negatives to leave the design in relief. Relief printing, or surface printing, transfers ink from the lines left on the surface of a plate.
Etching: The first dated etching was made in 1513. In this process, one of the oldest of the indirect intaglio techniques, the depths or different levels of a metal plate are created by the chemical action of an acid, instead of by the mechanical action of an engraving tool. The artist paints his design on a clean plate, usually copper, with an acid-resistant substance (usually a mixture of resins and waxes) called a ground. If the plate is totally covered, it can be worked into to reveal some of the metal beneath in the form of lines made, for instance, with a wooden-handled round needle. An oval needle known as an echoppe is sometimes used as well. Turning the tool while drawing, the characteristic width of the line is altered. The unprotected metal is “eaten” or “bitten” when the plate is left in an acid bath. The depth of the bite depends not on the pressure exerted by the hand, but rather on the duration of the immersion in the acid. This is one of the processes that allow the artist the freedom of drawing marks by hand. For printing, the ground is removed, ink is introduced into the incised lines, and the plate is wiped clean. The plate is covered with dampened paper and run through a press under great pressure in order to force the paper into the lines, resulting in the raised characteristic of etching.
Fine Art and Historical prints: Prints can be separated into two general types, fine art prints and historical prints. These types can be be understood through a differentiation of their emphasis. The distinction between the two types of prints is not clear-cut, nor is it understood by all experts in the same way. Generally, a fine art print is one conceived and executed by an artist with as much or more concern for the manner of presentation of the print as for its content, whereas the concern of the maker of an historical print is focused more on the content of the image than on its presentation.
Fold-out print: Refers to a print that has been folded in order to fit the folio or book that it was published in. A fold-out can be issued as a double, triple, or quadruple, depending on the size of the image. Therefore, these types of prints have a natural, as-issued, fold line or crease through the image.
Foxing: Can consist of light through dark spotting/mottling, and can also appear as large patches of discoloration on the paper. Foxing affects the paper in different degrees; while slight or light foxing is not usually offensive in Antique artwork, in some cases dark or heavy foxing can be detrimental to the artwork. Technical definition would be: stains, spots, specks, and/or blotches in paper. While the cause of foxing is not completely understood, it is most likely fungoid in nature. Foxed areas of paper have a higher proportion of acid and iron than clean areas of the paper. Although there does not seem to be a definitive relationship between iron and foxing, as far as acid is concerned, it is not clear whether the acid is produced chemically or if it is a byproduct of the life function of organisms. The other factor which controls foxing is relative humidity, since fungi will not develop if the relative humidity falls below 75%. Air borne organisms, or organisms that are natural to the paper, may occur if the conditions, and especially the relative humidity, are favorable, resulting in growth and the generation of fox marks. The acid subsequently renders any iron in the paper soluble, and therefore visible, with it’s color being intensified by the presence of organic matter.
Genre prints: Prints depicting scenes from everyday life.
Hand coloring: Hand coloring is a recognized technique, as some of the oldest prints produced were colored by hand. However, the hand coloring process is not a printmaking process and may raise questions of connoisseurship. It should be noted that hand coloring may vary considerably within the same edition.
Heliography: This term is used to denote an engraving process in which an image is obtained by photographic means. The technique consists of preparing a brass plate with Syrian asphalt, which has the property of becoming white and insoluble when exposed to light, therefore the process had to be done in a dark room. The plate was then exposed or covered with an image whose black portions did not allow any light to shine through. The exposed areas then became insoluble whereas the dark areas could easily be dissolved with oil. All that was left to do was to etch the plate as in the normal etching process. Thus heliography, one of the first photographic processes, was also first photochemical etching process.
Impression: An impression is a single piece of paper with an image printed on it from a matrix. The term as applied to prints is used in a manner similar to the term “copy” as applied to a book.
Incunabulum: This term covers printed books before 1501, and also is a generic term describing documents relating to the history of anything. In printmaking in particular, it is the generic term for any relief or intaglio print found in the early books of woodcuts, which often had illustrations and text printed on the same page.
Intaglio: An intaglio print is one whose image is printed from a recessed design incised or etched into the surface of a plate. In this type of print the ink lies below the surface of the plate and is transferred to the paper under pressure. The printed lines of an intaglio print stand in relief on the paper, and all intaglio prints have platemarks.
Later hand coloring: Hand coloring applied to the print at a later date than originally published.
Limited edition: A limited edition print is one in which a limit is placed on the number of impressions pulled in order to create a scarcity of the print. Limited editions are usually numbered and are often signed. Limited editions are a relatively recent development dating from the late nineteenth century. Earlier prints were limited in the number of their impressions solely by market demand, or by the maximum number that could be printed by the medium used. The inherent physical limitations of the print media and the relative small size of the pre-twentieth century print market meant that non-limited edition prints from before the late nineteenth century were in fact quite limited in number, even though not intentionally so. The estimated maximum number of quality impressions it was possible to pull using different print media as follows:
1) Engraving: 500 (and about the same number of weaker images)
2) Stipple: 500 (and about the same number of weaker images)
3) Mezzotint: 300 to 400, although the quality suffers after the first 150
4) Aquatint: Less than 200
5) Wood block: Up to 10,000
It was only with the development of lithography and of steel facing of metal plates in the nineteenth century that tens of thousands of impressions could be pulled without a loss of quality.
Lithograph: Prints taken from a drawing done from a polished limestone, zinc or aluminum plate. The drawing is done with greasy crayons, pens, or pencils. A solution containing gum Arabic and diluted nitric acid is washed on the stone (or plate). This solution fixes the design in place. The entire plate surface is washed with water and then inked. Print paper is applied and sent through a press, transferring the image of the stone (or plate) to the paper.
Lithotint: A tonal lithograph printed from two stones or plates.
Margin: The border around the paper, outside of the platemark or image, depending on the medium.
Matrix: A matrix is an object upon which a design has been placed, and which is then used to make an impression on a piece of paper, thus creating a print. A wood block, metal plate, or lithographic stone can be used as a matrix.
Mezzotint: An intaglio image-making technique in which the plate is worked from dark tones to light with a special tool. A negative process, the mezzotint technique consists of first roughening the surface of the plate with a very fine toothed tool called a mezzotint “rocker” or “roulette”, so that if the plate were to be printed directly the resulting print would be totally black. The artist then does his drawing by making white lines and marks by scraping or burnishing out areas so that they do not hold ink, yielding the mezzotint’s modulated tones. One of the special qualities of a mezzotint is the very sumptuous, rich, dense black created by the action of the rocker.
Mixed method intaglio prints: A mixed method print is one whose design is created on a single matrix using a variety of printmaking techniques, for example: line engraving, stipple, and etching.
1) An artist with many different intaglio techniques at his disposal often incorporates several intaglio methods in one plate; etching, engraving, soft or hard ground, burnishing, dry point, gouging holes in plates, deep biting, and so on.
2) Mixed method can also refer to mixed printing processes; for instance relief and
intaglio in one work.
3) In color printing, mixed method can also refer to one plate whose depths are printed
intaglio, and whose top is rolled (as in relief) for surface tones.
Nature printing: Originally performed in the 15th century by treating a leaf or plant evenly with oil, then uniformly blackening it over a flame. It was then placed between two sheets of paper and rubbed. In 1852, the technique was improved by Louis Auer and Andrew Worring in Vienna. Instead of paper, they used soft lead plates and made an electrotype of the resulting impression. The process was later brought to England by Henry Bradbury, who subsequently patented it in 1853, and used it to create fine prints.
Numbered print: A numbered print is one which is part of a limited edition and which has been numbered by hand. The numbering is usually in the form of x / y, where y stands for the total number of impressions in this edition and x represents the specific number of the print. The number of a print always indicates the order in which the prints were numbered, not necessarily the order in which the impressions were pulled. This, together with the fact that later impressions are sometime superior to earlier pulls, means that lower numbers do not necessarily indicate better quality impressions. As with signed prints, the numbering of prints is a development of the late nineteenth century.
Offset lithographs: This refers to the printing technique in which an inked image from a stone or plate is printed by first offsetting it onto an intermediate surface, then transferring it onto the printing paper; thus the image prints the same way round that it was drawn.
Offsetting: Plate or Image Offsetting: When a print is originally published with the platemark or image offset to the right or left of the paper edge. At times the platemark or image can be at, or actually off, the paper’s edge. These prints can appear to be trimmed, but knowledge of the specific publication usually reveals the offsetting.
Oleographs: Chromolithographs printed on a textured surface. Popularly used to produce inexpensive reproductions of oil paintings in the late nineteenth century.
Original print: An original print is one printed from a matrix on which the design was created by hand and issued as part of the original publishing venture, or as part of a subsequent publishing venture. It is a finished composition and an end product of an artist’s creative process, with the artist being the author of the concept of the work, and involved with the production of the matrix, and with the artist’s direct involvement in the printmaking process. An original print does however utilize a medium that allows more than one copy to be made. The term original print is also used as a way of distinguished it from a reproduction, which is produced photomechanically, as well as from a restrike, which is produced as part of a later, unconnected publishing venture. There can be multiple original prints made.
Painting: A technique consisting of oil paint on canvas or board.
1) Laid paper is made by hand in a mold, where the wires used to support the paper pulp emboss their pattern into the paper. This pattern of closely spaced lines can be seen
when the paper is held up to light. Laid paper often has a watermark.
2) Wove paper is made by machine on a belt and lacks the laid lines. False laid lines can be added to machine-made paper. Though wove paper was invented in the eighteenth century and laid paper is still produced, the majority of prints made prior to 1800 are on laid paper, and the majority of prints made subsequently are on wove paper.
3) China paper is a very thin paper, originally made in China, which is used for chine appliqué prints.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PAPER:
The traditional way to make paper is to beat rags into a liquid pulp. The hand papermaker scoops a tray of crossed wires into this mixture of liquid pulp and water, and a thin layer of fibers settles onto the wires. This is then turned out onto felts, the water pressed out, and the sheet dried. To turn a sheet of paper into printing paper, it often has to be sized or sealed (though not for all processes). One of the qualities of paper that allows it to exist over centuries is its degree of purity. This is the quality most often discussed by artists, conservators, and museums alike. So many factors can contribute to the deterioration of a sheet of paper that it seems essential, if it is to be the only support of a piece of art, that it start life in as pure a form as possible. The presence of acids in paper has been shown to seriously contribute to its deterioration; consequently, a paper claimed to be “acid-free” has become desirable.
Photogravure: This is the term for the commercial application of the intaglio process. Machine printing of intaglio images was made possible by the invention of a crossed-line screen, already familiar in halftone blocks for relief printing. In gravure printing, the block is divided into tiny, squarish pits, each of a different depth. The image is photographically transferred onto a cellular structure in which etched hollows of regular area, but varying depth, dictate the amount of ink carried and printed. The plate is coated with thin ink, and the top surface wiped clean with a soft blade. Gravure printing had many more commercial applications than other methods, because the intaglio cylinder is very hard wearing and the paper used is cheaper than the coated papers required by relief printing or offset lithography. It is still found in use commercially, but is generally not used by artists today. It is also called line photogravure, aquatint photogravure, sand grain photogravure, and rotogravure.
Photomechanical prints: Prints made from photographically prepared printing surfaces. A distinctive dot pattern is usually visible.
Platemark: A platemark is the rectangular ridge created in the paper of a print by the edge of an intaglio plate. Unlike a relief or planographic print, an intaglio print is printed under considerable pressure, thus creating the platemark when the paper is forced together with the plate. Some reproductions have a false platemark.
Plate ink: Ink residue that appears in the white areas of a print due to the plate not being cleaned thoroughly prior to printing the image.
Print: A single print is a piece of paper upon which an image has been imprinted from a matrix. In a general sense, a print is the set of all the impressions made from the same matrix. By its nature, a print can have multiple impressions.
Printer’s crease: When paper is unintentionally folded or creased while being passed through the printing press.
Proof: A proof is an impression of a print pulled prior to the regular, published edition of the print. A trial or working proof is one taken before the design on the matrix is finished. These proofs are pulled so that the artist can see what work still needs to be done to the matrix. Once a printed image meets the artist’s expectations, this becomes a bon tirer (“good to pull”) proof. This proof is often signed by the artist to indicate his approval, and is used for comparison purposes by the printer. An artist’s proof is an impression issued in addition to the regular numbered edition, and is reserved for the artist’s own use. Artist’s proofs are usually signed and are sometimes marked “A.P.”, “E.A.” or “H.C.”. Commercial publishers found that there was a financial advantage to offering so called “proofs” for sale, and so developed other types of proofs to offer to collectors, generally at higher prices.
Proof before letters: An impression pulled before the title is added below the image.
Relief: A relief print is one whose image is printed from a design raised on the surface of a block. In this type of print, the ink lies on top of the block and is transferred to the paper under light pressure.
Remarque: A remarque is a small vignette image in the margin of a print, often related thematically to the main image. Originally remarques were scribbled sketches made in the margins of etchings so that the artist could test the plate, his needles, or the strength of the etching acid prior to working on the main image. These remarques were usually removed prior to the first publication of the print. During the etching revival in the late nineteenth century, remarques became popular as an additional design element in prints.
Remarque proof: An impression pulled before the remarque is removed.
Reproduction: A reproduction is a copy of an original print or other artwork whose matrix design is transferred from the original by a photomechanical process. A facsimile is a reproduction done to the same scale and appearance as the original.
Restrike: A restrike is a print produced from the matrix of an original print, but was not printed as part of the original publishing venture, nor was it a part of a connected subsequent publishing venture. A restrike is a later impression from an unrelated publishing project. The term is often applied to printings made after an artist’s death. It is also applied to a plate that is reprinted after it leaves the artist’s possession or control. If the plate has not been damaged, the quality may be excellent and equal to earlier editions. Usually, restrikes are neither signed nor numbered. They are more common from intaglio or relief blocks than from lithographs, where the stone or plate will have been erased for another use; or from screenprints, where the image is destroyed.
Retroussage: An evocative term for a skill in which a feather or cloth is used to tease a little ink from the lines after a plate has been wiped for printing, imparting a richer and possibly more romantic quality to the image.
Scratched letter proof: An impression in which the title is lightly etched below the image.
Signed: A signed print is one signed, in pencil or ink, by the artist and/or engraver of the print. A print is said to be signed in the plate if the artist’s signature is incorporated into the matrix and so appears as part of the printed image. Proof prints were originally signed “proof” when the impression met the artist’s expectation. Later, proof prints were signed in order to add commercial value to these impressions. In the late nineteenth century, in response to the development of photomechanical reproduction techniques, fine arts prints were signed by the artists in order to distinguish between original prints and reproductions.
Soft-ground etching: In this process, the plate is coated with a soft, sticky, liquid resist. A thin sheet of paper placed over the top is then drawn onto by the artist; the pressure exerted causes the soft ground to adhere to the paper, thus exposing the metal. After the plate is etched, the impression remains fixed in the metal. The plate is bitten in the acid, and the ground cleaned off before printing. The result is similar to a chalk or pencil drawing. The earliest print of this type was probably made by Castiglione, and is dated around the 1640’s. Prints made from a soft ground are gentler and more delicate than ordinary etchings. With soft ground, almost any kind of texture can be reproduced, and any material with a rough enough surface can be pressed into the soft ground to leave an impression of itself. Under a microscope, it may be possible to distinguish soft-ground etchings from true aquatints by the absence of the rings or pools of ink that form around the resin particles. The opposite of soft-ground etching is hard-ground etching, in which a less sticky liquid is used to coat the plate, and then drawn into or scraped away with a pointed tool.
Soiling: Surface markings on prints, sometimes due to handling.
State: A state of a print includes all the impressions pulled without any change being made to the matrix. A first state print is one of the first group of impressions pulled. Different states of a print can reflect intentional or accidental changes to the matrix. States of a print should be distinguished from editions of a print. There can be several editions of a print that are the same state, and there can be several states of a print in the same edition.
State proofs: These are proofs that show the evolution of the master image on the main plate. An artist who wants to check what he is doing, experiment, or change, will print an impression from an unfinished plate. These are the stages or “states” of a plate; in some cases, the artist may draw on the actual prints to test what he wants to do next. They are usually few in number, as they are working proofs. Occasionally, the variation in the states may be so great that separate editions are pulled from individual state proofs. If these eventually come onto the market, they give insight into the artist’s working methods. The study of states has also been useful in determining the sequence of printings. Many Old Master plates were never canceled, and were often printed long after the artist’s death. As the plates were worn down, they were reworked by other hands to restore their usefulness. In these cases, a proper sequence of states can provide information as to whether a certain print was produced during the artist’s lifetime.
Steel plate engraving: A print from an engraved steel plate. Steel engravings are oftentimes recognized by a stiffness found in their paper, although the engraved lines themselves exhibit a very fine quality. Steel engraving developed in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Copper plates were found to be made more durable by facing them with steel, and thus can be used to make larger editions than those possible with copper. Steel engraving remained a very important method of printing until around 1880.
Steel facing: A process for adding pure iron to a metal intaglio plate by electro-deposition.
Stipple engraving: A stipple engraving is created on an ungrounded plate with a special tool called a stippling burin. These small dots give the effect of light and shade. Stipple engraving became popular in the 1700’s by an Italian artist, Bartolozzi. The process was later enhanced and improved by the French, who used it in a widespread manner during the 1800’s.
Stipple etching: Stipple and other dotting processes create the effect of tone in an image. The design is built up by thousands of minute dots worked through a ground on a plate, with either a needle or roulette. The plate is bitten in the usual way.
Stone: A lithographic stone is a slab of stone, usually limestone, used as a matrix for a print. Lithographic stones are used to make lithographs and chromolithographs.
Sugar-lift aquatint: In this process, the plate is resin-dusted all over, as in a normal aquatint, but then the artist makes a positive drawing with a special medium that contains sugar, ensuring that it will never completely dry. A varnish (possibly asphalt) is then laid over the plate, which is then immersed in water. The sugary drawing under the varnish is attacked along its edges, causing the varnish to lift, and this then exposes the plate for aquatinting in the usual way. This process enables the artist to capture a spontaneous gesture in the intaglio medium.
Text Offsetting: When text is transferred to an image from the opposing page in a folio.
Watermark: A watermark is a design embossed into a piece of paper during its production, and is used for identification of the paper and papermaker. Watermarking was a very early device that helped to identify the name of the paper and the mill where it was made. A watermark is actually a variation in thickness introduced as the sheet of paper is being made; it has the appearance of a raised design. The design is created in wire attached, onto the metal mesh of the paper mould. As the papermaker pulls the mould immersed in pulp slowly out of the vat, fewer fibers remain on top of the raised wire watermark than on the mesh as a whole. When a dried sheet of paper is held up to the light, the watermark is clearly visible, because the paper in that area is thinner than it is in the rest of the sheet. A watermark gives information about the paper, the mill, or even the artist, as often a publisher or an artist will order a special paper for making an edition – one with a unique watermark device.
Woodcut: The woodcut is the oldest known printing block, and most enduring print technique. While woodcuts were first seen in ninth-century China, in the West, it acquired its greatest importance in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, after which its place was taken by the copperplate engraving and etching. Up until the last century, the woodcut had almost dropped out of favor until its rediscovery by Vallotton, Munch, and the Expressionists. For a woodcut, the side grain of a plank of wood is used (the end grain is used for a wood engraving), and is usually about one inch thick. The drawing is traced or pasted on the plank in reverse so that it will print the right way round in the print. The woodcutter follows the design with a special tool, making not a vertical cut, but two separate incisions. One is inclined away from the design, while the other is in the opposite direction so that a shaving of wood can be taken away. Large non-printing areas are removed with a chisel or scoop.
Woodcut in color: Color woodcuts are thought to have originated in Germany at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Often a key block that shows the black outline is cut first and used as a guide to the succeeding blocks, each of which bears a different color, as there was usually a separate block made for each color used.
Wood engraving: The wood engraving was historically a modification of the woodcut, developed in the eighteenth century, although it is quite different in appearance. It is often held in low esteem by art historians and collectors, mostly because it was developed purely for commercial reasons. Engravers use a block of well-seasoned, fine, end grained wood such as apple, cherry, pear, beech, box, or even a harder wood such as oak; they cut along the grain using finely honed, sharp tools: knives, V or U shaped gouges. This surface has no grain and can afford great precision and detail. Larger blocks, when needed, were made by bolting together smaller blocks. A wood engraving can be confused with a metal one in that both the lines are incised; to print a wood engraving in the intaglio manner would probably cause the block to crack.
Zincograph: A lithograph printed from a zinc plate.