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glossary of terms

Acid-free Paper or Canvas
Paper or canvas treated to neutralise its natural acidity in order to protect fine art and photographic prints from discoloration and deterioration.

Canvas Transfer
Art reproduction on canvas which is created by a process such as serigraphy photo-mechanical, or giclee printing. Some processes can even recreate the texture, brush strokes and aged appearance of the original work of art.

Limited Edition
Set of identical prints numbered in succession and signed by the artist. The total number of prints is fixed or "limited" by the artist who supervises the printing themself. All additional prints have been destroyed.

One-of-a-kind print conceived by the artist and printed by or under the artist's supervision.

Montage (Collage)
An artwork comprising portions of various existing images such as from photographs or prints and arranged so that they join, overlap or blend to create a new image.

Print Proof Types
Proofs are prints authorised by the artist in addition to the limited signed and numbered edition. The total size of an art edition consists of the signed and numbered prints plus all outstanding proofs. If a set of proofs consists of more than one print, numbers are inscribed to indicate the number of the print within the total number of the particular type of proof (eg, AP 5/20 means the fifth print in a set of 20 identical prints authorised as artist's proofs). Proofs are generally signed by the artist as a validation of the prints.

Artists Proof
Print intended for the artist's personal use. It is a common practice to reserve approximately ten percent of an edition as artist's proofs, although this figure can be higher. The artist's proof is sometimes referred to by its French name, epreuve d'artist (abbreviated to EA.). Artist's proofs can be distinguished by the AP or EA, commonly on the lower left corner of the work.

Hors d'Commerce Proof
Print identical to the edition print intended to be used as samples to show to dealers and galleries. Hors d'Commerce (abbreviated H.C.) proofs may or may not be signed by the artist

Printer's Proof
Print retained by the printer as a reference. Artists often sign these prints as a gesture of appreciation.

Common Print-making Techniques

Printing technique using a planographic process in which prints are pulled on a special press from a flat stone or metal surface that has been chemically sensitised so that ink sticks only to the design areas, and is repelled by the non-image areas. Lithography was invented in 1798 in Solnhofen, Germany by Alois Senefider. The early history of lithography is dominated by great French artists such as Daumier and Delacroix, and later by Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Braque and Miro.

Offset Lithograph
A special photo-mechanical technique in which the image to be printed is transferred to the negative plates and printed onto papers. Offset lithograph is very well adapted to colour printing. In the process of producing limited editions the finest reprographic techniques are used to split the original painting into the four printing colours. High quality mechanical printing then enables the translation of this image onto paper. The plates are destroyed in order that the authenticity and integrity of the limited edition print is maintained.

Serigraphs/Silkscreen Prints
Silkscreens or serigraphs as they are called in the USA are "original prints" and are a modern development of stencil printing. They are created by the long established method which, in simple terms, is a stencil printing process in which colour, usually paint or ink is passed through a fine screen onto paper The screen traditionally used comprises a fine weave silk, or similar, pulled over and secured to the frame. The silk is then masked excepting those areas where the paint is required to pass through. As each individual colour and shade requires a separate screen the whole process is lengthy and requires considerable skill. Slowly then, screen by screen, with precise alignment the final image is worked towards. The artist is involved during the creation of each edition approving various stages and often making changes and additions, adding to the originality of the final item.

Iris or Giclee
Giclee (zhee-clay) is a French term, in this case meaning "spray of ink". An Iris ink jet print on watercolour paper is known as a giclee.

A giclee is a means of reproducing an original. It is not an original graphic but a fine quality reproduction print. In many cases, that quality is high enough to reproduce an original in a way that many find superior to that of a serigraph or lithograph. Many artists have chosen giclee prints precisely for this reason: they want the finest rendition possible of their originals,

It is an amazing print technique that truly captures the essence of an original painting. With watercolour, the washes flow onto the paper, and the colours can be as bold or subtle as you want them to be, Even the white of the paper shows through in the same way as the original.

With oil, the process captures the true texture of a piece. The giclee process really saturates the colours, and accurately presents the textures found in an oil painting, allowing viewers to feel the quality of the original in the giclee print

The professional workmanship provides a high level of quality. The apparent resolution of the digital print is 1,800 dots per inch, which is higher than a traditional lithographic print and has a wider colour gamut than serigraphy. Giclee prints render deep, saturated colours and have a beautiful painterly quality that retains minute detail, subtle tints and blends.

A variety of substrates can be used. This includes archival watercolour papers, such as Arches, Somerset, glossy paper and cotton duck canvas The prints may be hand embellished by the artist using paint, ink and gold foil stamping for a mixed media effect.

Iris Giclee prints have an impressive exhibition record. They have been shown in museums and galleries throughout the world.

The production of a giclee print is not an automatic process. The human touch is critical in several phases of the giclee process. First giclee prints begin as original art. Second the work is scanned into the computer, where it is colour corrected. That colour correction requires an experienced eye and touch in making the proper adjustments in tone, contrast, sharpness and other factors to produce a print that faithfully reproduces the original. Third in matching the computer image with the final print, a practised eye must make adjustments for the best results. And last, the printer itself needs steady attention to produce consistent quality results. In short the human hand is part of every step of the giclee process. Indeed, the difference between a quality printer and one that is not lies almost entirely in the human involvement and craftsmanship.

When it comes to fine art prints, giclees are not alone in the use of computers. The difference between print media is less than you may think. For example, virtually all images reproduced as offset lithographs are scanned into a computer where they are colour corrected before being output as film and press plates. Similarly, a growing number of serigraphs are being printed with silkscreens generated by computer, from scans made from transparencies or the original works. The true difference between giclees and these other types of prints lies in the printing device. For offset lithographs, that printing device is offset press. For serigraphs, the ink is applied by hand over the computer generated screens. For a giclee print, the printing takes place on an Iris continuous tone ink printer.

With giclees, the tools have changed as the technology has changed. There' is still plenty of human involvement, from the creation of the original, to the choice of using giclees by the artist and publisher, and the maintenance of quality throughout the production cycle by the printer. Specialist light fast inks are guaranteed for 100 years and seal the quality of the product.

Original Etchings
This printing process relies on acid. A plate is first coated with an 'etching ground' which is an impermeable acid resistant substance. The artist then draws his design onto the plate using an etching needle, which exposes the metal beneath. The back and edges of the plate are then coated with an acid resistant varnish and the whole thing is immersed in an acid bath. The acid bites into the metal whereever the etching needle has been used. Where the lines are to be lighter they are 'stopped out', or painted over with stopping out varnish. The longer a line is bitten by the acid the darker it will inevitably be. Once the plate is 'bitten' it is cleaned and polished and, finally, the ink can be applied. The printing process involves the etching plate being placed on dampened paper and then passed through the press at high pressure making the characteristic plate mark.

Original Mixed Media
A print which is hand crafted by the artist using a number of techniques as an original work, as opposed to a mechanical or photographical reproduction, is entitled an original mixed media. The design may be reproduced to create a 'multiple original' piece, however each piece of work will have its own variations.

Original Monotype Etchings
These are created by taking a copper plate onto which the design is painted with acid resistant varnish. The plate is then immersed into acid several times to build up a richly textured surface which holds the ink. Varnish is then chipped off with turps and ink is cleaned from the surface of the plate with a muslin scrim which polishes the surface clean but leaves the ink in all the textured work on the plate that has been etched by acid. The plate is then placed onto the press. Damp paper is laid over the plate which is then pulled through the press and the pressure of the press forces the paper into all the textured work on the plate thus transferring the ink onto the paper.

The resulting print is then hand coloured with water based inks. As these inks are transparent, the image starts to resonate like stained glass. Next the gold leaf or metal foil is laid down in small sheets and any excess is removed with a brush. The image is brought to completion by the addition of pastel. This is usually applied to the darker areas as it further enhances the jewel like quality of the piece as well as introducing a layer of opaque colour which compliments the transparent washes applied earlier.