Print Techniques

Etching

No photographic aids are used in the etching progress. The artist scratches through a resin resist, which is impervious to acid, onto a copper plate with an etching needle; the plate is then immersed in ferric chloride acid so it is etched along the needle lines. The process is usually repeated many times until a satisfactory result is achieved. In the case of Ingamells’ etchings, a second, back-up aquatint plate is used to emphasise shadow and tonal qualities. The plates are then inked, using the ‘á la poupée’ method, and hand-printed onto acid-free paper in an intaglio press. Ingamells’ etchings are printed at the Hope (Sufferance) Studio in Southwark, one of only half a dozen studios world-wide capable of the quality of work required.

Screenprinting

Screenprinting is a stencil process. For Masterprints, the colours have been separated by hand-made masks; and soft-image printing, a process pioneered by Brad Faine which avoids the intrusion of half-tone dots, has been used. As many as 25 colours have been used in the Masterprints, each of which has been individually matched by Brad Faine with the original using a watercolour palette.

Collotype

The painstaking process of collotype is ideal for the faithful reproduction of watercolours. It involves transferring an image onto continuous tone film which is then retouched by hand with ink, pencil, chalk and scraping knife. Each colour in the image is then transferred photographically onto gelatine-covered aluminium plates. The absorbency of the gelatine determines how much colour then reaches the plate. The hand-inked plates are printed on a flat-bed lithographic press which dates from 1870. No more than 600 prints may be made from the gelatine covering of the collotype plate before it wears out.

Dust-grain gravure

Dust-grain gravure, a relation of the aquatint, evolved originally for reproducing oil paintings as editions of monochrome prints. The name derives from the resin dust which the printmaker uses to protect the plate from acid, and which contributes to the characteristic texture of the print. The image is initially transferred through gelatine sheets onto aquatinted copper plates. These are then etched in ferric chloride, hand-inked, using the ‘á la poupée’ method, and hand-printed onto acid-free paper in an intaglio press. In the early 20th century, the process fell victim to innovations which enabled images to be cheaply mass-produced — but only at the expense of quality. The strength of the gravure print lies in its tonal and textural qualities. So far as is known, this is the first time the dust-grain gravure process has ever been used to reproduce images in more than one colour.