Intaglio and Viscosity Printing with Artist Julie Houck

Here is just a bit of explanation for Julie Houck newest print works. So incredibly beautiful. These prints are still one of a kind works, just produced in a manner very different from her landscape work.

Intaglio  Printing

In intaglio printing, the lines to be printed are cut into a metal (e.g. copper) plate by means either of a cutting tool called a burin, held in the hand – in which case the process is called engraving; or through the corrosive action of acid – in which case the process is known as etching. In etching, for example, the plate is pre-covered in a thin, acid-resistant resin or wax ground. Using etching needles or burins, the artist or writer (etcher) engraves their image (therefore to be only where the plate beneath is exposed). The plate’s ground side is then dipped into acid, or the acid poured onto it. The acid bites into the surface of the plate where it was exposed. Biting is a printmaking term to describe the acid’s etching, or incising, of the image; its duration depends on the acid strength, metal’s reactivity, temperature, air pressure and the depth desired.[5] After the plate is sufficiently bitten it is removed from the acid bath, the ground is removed gently and the plate is usually dried or cleaned.

To print an intaglio plate, ink or inks are painted, wiped and/or dabbed into the recessed lines (such as with brushes/rubber gloves/rollers). The plate is then rubbed with tarlatan cloth to remove most of its waste (surface ink) and a final smooth wipe is often done with newspaper or old public phone book pages, leaving it in the incisions. Dampened paper will usually be fed against the plate, covered by a blanket, so when pressed by rolling press it is squeezed into the plate’s ink-filled grooves with uniform very high pressure. The blanket is then lifted, revealing the paper and printed image. The final stages repeat for each copy needed



Viscosity Printing

Three to four colors of ink are mixed, each of a different viscosity. This viscosity is adjusted by the addition of uncooked linseed oil.

Metal plates, usually copper or zinc, are used, as in the intaglio processes. The artist produces images on the plate by etching lines or textures. The plate is then inked in several stages. The first ink would be fairly dense—of a relatively high viscosity. The application of the high-viscosity ink is carried out as in any intaglio process: by forcing it into the recesses of the plate and then wiping off the plate’s surface with a tarlatan.

Ink of a second color, and the thinnest viscosity, is then applied to the surface of the plate with a hard rubber roller, so that it covers the plate in one pass and only transfers onto the highest areas of the plate. Ink of a third color, and a much stiffer consistency, is then applied to the lower areas of the plate with a softer rubber roller. The varying viscosities of the two rolled-on inks prevent them from mixing. A fourth color, of even thinner viscosity, can also be applied at this point. This color is either spread out on a glass plate, which is then pressed against the printing plate so that the ink only adheres to the highest points of the metal plate, or it is applied by a hard roller applied with very little pressure.

This process may be done with a monotype as well. Inking the acrylic or plexiglass plate with one ink with a very high viscosity, and following that, rolling a very loose ink over it, produces two tones on a single plate. One may attempt to scratch an image onto the plate, but acrylic and plexiglass plates are more temperamental than copper or zinc, and wear out sooner.

A sheet of printing paper is then placed on the upright plate and passed through a printing press, which prints all of the colors simultaneously. This is of a certain advantage, as in some other multi-color printing processes, correct registration of the blocks presents a difficulty.