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1- Ink and plate

After all ground has been removed from the plate, its surface is inked and good care taken that the ink penetrates into the incisions made. The ink normally used is dense but ductile, made of linseed oil and soot for black ink or pigments for colour ink, and either mixed or purchased in a specialised shop by the printing artist. After the ink has been applied to the plate, any excess ink should be wiped from its surface, so that only the incisions making up the image are filled. This operation can be carried out either using cotton wads for delicate sketches or tarlatan wads. A veil on the surface, especially around the incised lines, known as ink entrapment is achieved by gently passing a tarlatan wad over the grooves so that the ink they contain spills across its edges. Special effects may be achieved by strengthening or softening some of the lines, as Whistler did in his work (IMATGE whistler.jpg) in the 19th century.

If prints are struck in colour, several procedures may be followed. Most traditional is “a la poupée”, which consists of adding all colours at the same time to the printing plate, using different wads while applying each colour in the proper area. This process turns each print into almost a unique one, due to the fact that it is impossible to control the borders between different colours in consecutive pulls. Printing may also be done with different plates for each colour, with an exact record of their placing so that each colour is applied in the right spot and one on top of the other. Alternatively engravers may use a more modern and more complicated system conceived by S.W. Hayter which carries his name. It consists in applying different depths of incision to the printing plate, each colour being applied with ink rollers of different toughness so that a print of various colours is achieved with a single run through the printing press.


 




 

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