Works on Paper:
How an engraving is made

The artist engraving a plate

That's a Jeweler's loop on my head.

The vise in my left hand, and that the plate is on, is a half-sphere called a engravers vise. It slides in the base it is sitting in like a ball and socket joint, allowing maximum movement in the left hand in any direction.

Sometimes the technique is to move the plate into the tool instead of the tool into the plate, or both can move into each other, depending on the cut of the line, the tool used and how the tool is sharpened.

The smallest details are done with a microscope.
Like to see a picture of an engraved copper plate?

Then it is inked, wiped and laid on a piece of paper towel on the press, inked side up.

I take a sheet of dampened printing paper and holding it at the corners lay it over the plate in one smooth movement, not shifting or moving the paper so the ink does not smear.

Then the felt blankets are laid on top of the paper and it is all run through a press, printing on paper that has been soaked with water overnight.

Want to see a step by step slide show of an engraving being

Look for the Engraving slideshow.

the artist pulling an engraving after it has been printed
This engraving is being pulled from the inked plate laying on top of the paper towel.
Slideshow of an engraving being printed.
  • The printed paper is the engraving. It is the paper on the top left in this picture being pulled from the plate, which is resting on a paper towel used to absorb excess moisture from the print paper.

  • Usually I work on the plate more after the first proof is printed, if some elements do not fit the vision.

  • These copies are trial proofs, and each one is usually unique since the plate is engraved on between printing (commonly called impressions) until the plate is finished.

  • After the plate is done being worked on, four or five impressions called "Artist's Proofs" are printed to make sure to get the ink consistency and wiping process correct. These are more unique compared to the later ones, as they are not as consistent.

  • After that numbers are written on the engravings, beginning with, for example 1/50.
    • The first number is the individual engraving number, in this case it is "1."
    • The second shows how many are in the edition, in this case there are "50."

  • You can tell an original engraving by the ridge on the back and the impression on the front where the roller has pushed the paper into the plate, similar to embossing, but in the shape of the plate.
Next step, Framing.

A flat piece of copper or zinc (called a plate) is engraved with tools called burins.

This is the Intaglio process, where the image is cut below the surface of the metal plate.

That makes it the opposite of embossed, which rises above the surface that has been cut down.

Want to purchase Max Standley's artwork for your home or office?
Please contact R. Michelson Galleries to see and purchase available paintings and/or engravings (or Fine Impressions for engravings.

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