Rochat Press

Frequently Asked Questions


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What is an "original" print?

When one is talking about original Etchings, Woodcuts and Linoprints, a plate or "matrix" is worked upon by the printmaker to alter the surface in such a way that it will hold applied printing ink, which will then offset onto paper under pressure. Each time the plate off-sets the ink on to a piece of paper it is called a print or impression. Both the plate and every print that is produced in this way is considered an original - the plate and the impressions have all been created by handcrafted processes.

What is a "Limited Signed Edition"?

In handmade printmaking, an edition is the number of prints that will be pulled from a plate. It is signed and numbered (eg No. 3 of 10 or 3/10) by the artist as a guarantee that there will never be more than that number printed. Sometimes the printmaker will print the full edition straight off, but sometimes they may choose to print it over a period of time.

If an original print is signed but is not numbered in any way, there is a chance that it is an "open edition" meaning that an unlimited number of prints may be produced.

What is a "giclee" print?

A giclee print is a digital reproduction of an existing work of art (eg, a watercolour or acrylic/oil painting) that is made using an ink-jet printer. The original is the existing artwork and the giclee prints are reproductions. The prints displayed on this website are not giclee reproductions.

How is an Etching produced?

When I have an idea for an etching, the first thing I produce is a drawing, the same size as the metal plate that I shall be working on. This enables me to start deciding how I am going to begin working on the plate. I always find that there are numerous stages to producing one of my etchings - I might start with line, then pull a proof, put on an aquatint, then proof again and then I might repeat one of the processes to increase texture or darken a tone, sometimes more than once.

The general process is as follows. The metal plate (usually copper, steel or zinc), is covered with a waxy "ground" on one side. The ground is then worked into with an etching needle which removes the ground wherever the printmaker wishes to expose the surface of the plate. When the process is complete, the plate is put into a bath of an acidic substance which eats away at the exposed metal, how much is determined by how long the plate is left in the bath. This creates lines/marks below the surface level of the plate and these marks hold the printing ink when it is applied to the plate. Then the excess ink is wiped away with scrim, leaving ink trapped in the lines/marks. Next a piece of dampened paper is laid over the top of the plate which sits on the bed of an etching press and the two are run together under the press-roller. This forces the damp paper down into the marks below the surface and picks up the ink held there. The paper is then dried flat and the print is finished. The printmaker can also use a variety of other processes such as aquatint, sugar-lift and drypoint to create a range of marks which will hold the ink in different ways.

Wiping the plate is a hand-process, often quite creative in its own right, and slight variations between prints in an edition can sometimes be discerned if they were to be put side by side. This is not a negative point, it is the result of a non-mechanical process and makes each print individual. And some printmakers delight in varying the wiping and/or colouring within an edition.