history of print making

Methodologies

Digital & Giclée

French for “sprayed ink,” giclee is a sophisticated printmaking process. Giclée prints are often made from photographic images of fine art paintings, typically on inkjet canvas or fine art paper, to produce high-quality, permanent fine art reproductions. The extra-fine image resolution achieved in this inkjet printing process retains a high degree of fine detail from the original fine art image, rendering deeply saturated colors with broad ranges of tonal values.

Giclée Printing Advantages

Giclée printing has many advantages over other fine art printing methods. Since each piece is individually produced, one reproduction can be created at a time if desired, meaning the artist is not obligated to finish an edition. It is possible to order giclee prints as needed without large up-front costs and storage problems associated with other fine art printing methods.

Special Effects & Finishes

Because of our unique combination of equipment and skills, we have the ability to add special touches to a printed fine art edition. We call these techniques “special effects.” They are easily applied to silk screen fine art prints and varnished giclee prints, and the result is a mixed-media fine art print using old world printing techniques and the newest digital technology.

Gold & Silver Leaf (Gilding)

Gilding is a craft dating back hundreds of years, using gold leaf, an extremely thin foil made of gold. It is available in various colors, each with a different proportion of copper, silver or other metal in the alloy. To apply gold leaf to a fine art print, an ink drawing of the area to be gilded is made and burned into a screen. The leaf is attached to the print with an adhesive known as gold size. It is printed on to the prints and allowed to dry until it is no longer liquid and has a tacky surface. Next, the thin leaves of gold are applied by hand. This is done with a soft brush called a gilder’s tip. Once the gold has been applied, it is softly burnished and the excess gold is brushed away. Real gold leaf will not tarnish, so no varnish is necessary. Silver, imitation gold, and copper all will tarnish and should be printed with a protective gloss coating.

Metallic & Pearlescent Colors

Metallic inks, pearlescent and interference pigments add a subtle but dynamic richness to a fine art print. The areas printed with these inks will be a bit more glossy but will also have a metallic sheen when viewed from certain angles in the case of the metallic colors. The pearlescent or interference pigments will change color when viewed from different angles, much like looking at the iridescence of a butterfly’s wings.

Glitter

It is possible to apply a layer of glitter to a print. A drawing is made of the areas that the glitter is to be applied and the art is burned onto a special screen designed to allow the glitter to pass through the mesh and onto the print. There are a wide variety of glitters available for silkscreen printing therefore the color range is not limited.

The same technique is used to add textural elements to a print. Colored sand available at art supply stores, dry pigments and even reflective beads can be added to clear varnishes or colored inks, adding a unique surface to the print.

Texture

The silkscreen process tends to create a print with a distinct tactile surface because each color printed is a layer of ink rather than an imprint made by pressing the paper against an inked plate. By adding thickening agents to clear gloss coatings and printing with screens with a more open mesh this textural effect can be further emphasized.

This is done in much the same way that a color separation is done. A drawing in black ink is made of the texture that is desired. It can be an all over effect or limited to certain areas. It could have the look of brush strokes or could simply emphasize certain lines or design elements. Once the drawing is created it is put onto a screen and into the printing press. It can be printed once or for a more dramatic effect, printed two or three times to build up the surface. This can also be done with UV cure ink over a UV varnish.

Hand Brushed Acrylic

Sometimes, in order to add surface interest to a giclée print, a gloss varnish is brushed on by hand. The brush marks add a textural finish that compliments the crispness of the digital printing. This is done on both canvas and paper editions.

UV Gloss & Other High Gloss Coatings

All of our gloss varnishes [Gloss | Extra Gloss | UV Gloss] are available as well.

Serigraphy & Silkscreen Printing

Screen-printing is the most painterly of the printing techniques. It allows the use of layer upon layer of color, exploiting line and mass in bold ways. The inks can be printed as rich impastos or thin, transparent glazes. The result is a print that is both vivid in hue and displays a rich tactile surface.

A Brief History of Serigraphy Fine Art Printing

Screen-printing as we know it today evolved from stencil printing, one of the oldest of all printing methods. Early Japanese and Chinese hand cut stencils were so complex that they were held together with small silk threads. Eventually, the stencil pieces were adhered to an open weave silk fabric stretched over an open frame, and ink was forced through the screen to create the print.

In the Orient, stencil printing was used to make both fine art prints and (delete “as well as”) craft items. Fabrics, robes, scriptures, and various decorative goods were made using this method. In Europe, craftsmen adopted the stenciling technique for mostly utilitarian purposes. Stencils were used to add color to playing cards and religious pictures printed with wood blocks. By the Seventeenth Century, the technique was being used to print ornate wallpapers. By the late Eighteenth Century, stencil printing had made its way to the New World. Homes in New England were filled with stenciled papers, textiles and furnishings. It was not until the 1930s that screen-printing started to be used as an artistic medium in the United States.

Under the Work Projects Administration, a group of artists in New York City explored the creative possibilities of the medium for painters and printmakers. It was at that time that an art historian coined the term serigraph. “Seri” is from the Latin word for silk, and “graph” from the Greek word graphos, to draw or write. Today, screen-printing can be as simple as those early, hand-done techniques, or use sophisticated photographic methods and the latest digital technology to produce highly complex fine art images.

Photographic & Digital Scanning

High-Resolution Scanning for Giclee Printing

The quality and size of the scan will determine the quality of the giclee print, so it is incredibly important to do it correctly. We have the capability to produce a high-resolution scan that will allow us to easily manipulate the fine art image until it is a perfect match of the original. We use a mounted 4 x 5 camera along with a Better Light scan back, shot in properly calibrated studio lighting. With this equipment, our scanning experts can capture millions of accurate colors with outstanding detail and clarity. Superior resolution, lack of film grain, accuracy of focus, exposure, and tone control make our scans superior in quality to large format film of any other digital camera system.

Better Lights digital scanning backs do not capture an image of the subject in front of the camera all at once, but rather by physically moving a unique, highly-optimized tri-linear color image sensor smoothly across the image plane, building up the image one line per color at a time. A large preview image is used on the computer to make adjustments for precise exposure, color balance and contrast before the final image is captured. Each customized exposure is based on the original color palette and lighting conditions to make the final image as accurate as possible for large format reproduction.

We can also scan various sizes, from a small 4" x 5" image up to 4' x 8'. Whatever your imaging needs are, our experts can provide you with the best quality and service.

Photography

Much like our scanning, photography can produce a high-resolution scan that allows for easy manipulation. But a photo scan has also proven to show even more detail using light to capture the tiniest variations in lines and colors. Whichever method you choose you can be assured to receive outstanding quality.