Thursday, February 1, 2018

let's take a look at renaissance's division of labor (printing)

in this plate, we can trace all the steps involved in the new art of engraving on copper. 

at the lower right, a man with glasses engraves a copper plate, as young apprentices look on. he holds the plate at an angle in order to catch the light and because the only way to cut curved lines with a burin is by rotating the plate—usually the plate is placed on a cushion to make this easier (several burins of different sizes lie on the table in front of the engraver and it is possible to discern both the lozenge-shaped tip of the tool and its bulbous handle). 

@ center of the print, the engraved plate is prepared for the press:

1- plate is heated, to make the ink flow more easily into the grooves, 
2- the entire surface is covered with ink using a dabber,
3- the plate is carefully wiped so that the surface is clean and the ink remains only in the grooves. 

on the left side of the image, we see the printing process:

1- after placing the copper plate, with a dampened sheet of paper on top of it, between protective felt blankets, 
2- the plate is run through the press, in order to force the paper into the grooves so that it will pick up the ink (a tremendous pressure is required). 
3- the rolling press sandwiches the plate between two powerful rollers—we can see the effort required to operate the press.  4- in the left foreground, a printer examines a proof impression to see if the pressure needs to be adjusted or other changes made before continuing with the edition. 
5- a series of identical impressions (an edition) are being hung to dry on ropes stretched around the walls of the shop.

hard by today standards, don't you think?