Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Print Making

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Art and Art History

DESCRIPTION This study-unit introduces the students to the principles and characteristics of different printing techniques. Students work from drawings to create different types of prints: drypoint, etching and so on. Students learn how to use acids to etch copper plates and the etching press in the creation of editions of prints. Students learn the difficulties and challenges involved in working in this medium and how to circumvent these difficulties.

Study-Unit Aims:

Through the Intaglio study-unit, each student will become acquainted with three fundamental aspects of what constitutes an original intaglio print. The first aspect is linguistic and conceptual, while the second concerns the elaborate technique, with the third centering on ethics. It takes sound knowledge of all these fundamental principles to produce a good intaglio print.

Throughout the unit students will be learning these three principles through different intaglio techniques, namely:
- Dry point, in which an image is incised into a plate with a hard-pointed needle of a sharp metal or a diamond point;
- Traditional etching, whereby a metal (usually copper, zinc or steel) plate is covered with a waxy, acid-resistant ground. The artist then scratches into the ground with a pointed etching needle, causing a line to appear in the finished piece, in this manner exposing the bare metal. The metal is then etched using a mordant: an acid – as a result of which the latter would bite into the exposed metal, creating a groove where the ink will be deposited for printing;
- Aquatint, an intaglio printmaking technique that is a variant of etching. This technique resembles watercolour and is carried out by utilising resin and varnish to produce areas of tonal shading.

Among the aims of this unit is to impart to students a solid, hands-on knowledge of these three techniques, and their respective and separate different procedures. These include:
- preparing the plate;
- drawing onto the plate;
- etching the plate (not applicable for dry point);
- printing.

Students will have the opportunity to work on various different plates, which will vary in scope. The practical sessions of this unit are intended for the participants to exercise and hone the following key artistic capabilities:
- conducting accurate tests of the mordant and etching times;
- drawing transfers;
- spontaneity;
- interpretation;
- elegance;
- experimental work.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Creatively engage with the artistic techniques in the graphic medium.
- Plan, organise and execute a print from begging to end, working autonomously and cautiously in the printmaking studio in a safe work environment.
- Comprehend the fundamental ethical aspect of printmaking.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate the basic skills necessary for controlling and developing imagery through the various stages of the intaglio print production;
- Develop critical awareness of one’s own works;
- Apply anti-acid resist on a copper plate, utilise the etching needle, etch the plate and use mordant;
- Carefully analyse the etch;
- Produce the proofs, and handling of paper and ink;
- Set the printing press and laying the blankets with care throughout;
- Know and exercise ink mixing and wiping techniques;
- Understand what an edition is and what the various proofs stand for;
- Have confidence in print registration and paper choice;
- Have sound acquisition of studio practice and understanding of all relevant health and safety considerations.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Walter Chamberlain, Manual of Etching and Engraving, Thames & Hudson, London, 1972.

Nicholas Bristow, Screen Printing - Design and Technique, Bt Batsford, 1970.

Francis Kafra, Linoleum Block Printing, Library of Congress, New York 1972.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (15 Minutes) SEM2 Yes 15%
Classwork SEM2 Yes 35%
Practical SEM2 Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Jesmond Vassallo

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.