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Explore the Basics of Printmaking

Clare Romano, Grand Canyon, 1977, color collagraph on wove paper, Gift of Bob Stana and Tom Judy, 2016.148.44

Collagraph: The base of a collagraph print is made from cardstock, wood, or metal. String and other materials are glued or attached in layers to the base to form an image. The artist inks the base and presses paper on top to create the print.

Walter Gramatté, The Burial (Begrabnis), 1916, linocut in black on thin japan paper, Ruth and Jacob Kainen Collection, 1989.80.4

Linocut: To make a linocut, the artist carves an image into a block of linoleum with a sharp knife or chisel, inks the block with a roller (called a brayer), and then presses paper against the block by hand or with a printing press. Uncarved areas hold the ink; the areas where linoleum was removed do not appear in the final print.

Romare Bearden, Untitled, 1983, color lithograph on Rives paper, Gift of Jane and Raphael Bernstein, 2002.115.2

Lithograph: To make a lithograph, the artist uses a greasy drawing tool on a prepared flat stone or metal plate. An acidic solution with gum arabic fixes the drawing to the surface and allows it to accept ink. Blank areas repel the ink. The stone is also moistened with water. Ink sticks to the greasy areas but not to the damp areas of the moistened stone. The printmaker places a damp sheet of paper on the inked image and runs it through a lithographic press, which applies enough pressure to transfer the image to the paper.

Luigi Conconi, Solitudine [Solitude], 1892, etching with monotype wiping, printed in black on wove paper, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 2017.76.1

Monoprint: A monoprint is a unique impression that can be made only one time (rather than making multiple copies of the same image).

Lou Stovall, Sea to Shining Sea, 2008, color screenprint on wove paper, Gift of Lou and Di Stovall, 2009.8.1

Screenprint: Also known as a serigraph or a silkscreen, a screenprint is created with stencils. Silk or synthetic fabric is stretched tightly over a frame to form a screen. Stencils attached to the screen not only create an image or shape, but they also prevent ink or paint from passing through blocked-off areas of the screen. Ink or paint is forced through the screen with a squeegee, one color at a time. Any ink or paint that passes through the screen leaves color on the paper.

Clare Romano, Calcio (Soccer), 1958, woodcut, Reba and Dave Williams Collection, Gift of Reba and Dave Williams, 2008.115.4135

Woodcut: In the relief printmaking technique of woodcut, the artist carves a design or image into a block of wood with a knife or another sharp tool. The untouched areas are later coated with ink and pressed to paper; the areas where wood was removed do not appear in the final print. This technique, considered the oldest form of printmaking, dates to the seventh century in China.