Melanie Wade Leslie
Fine Artist * Printmaker


An Abbreviated GLOSSARY of

Common Printmaking Terms and Definitions  

Sources:    A Printshop Handbook by Beth Grabowski    
                  Basic Printmaking Techniques by Bernard Toale

- A -

à la poupée     (French, “with a doll”)  An intaglio inking technique allowing several
colors to be put on the plate at once.

artist’s proof     A print of edition quality, but separate from the numbered edition
that is kept by the artist.

 - B -

bleed print     A print having an image that extends to the edges of the paper.

blend roll     Also called rainbow roll or split fountain.  A technique of simultaneously
rolling several colors on a stone or relief surface from the same roller.  Colors have a soft
blended transition from one to the next.

bon à tirer     (French, “good to pull”)  The working proof that is designated by the
artist as the standard by which the rest of the edition is compared.  Sometimes it is the
same as the printer’s proof.

 - C -

chine collé     A technique for gluing smaller pieces of paper onto a print while you
are printing it.  Usually thin papers are attached to a heavier printing paper with this
method.  Historically used to tone areas in a print.

collagraph     A print made from a plate that is composed of other materials in a
collage manner.

composite print     A print made from a number of individual plates combining
different  techniques or images in the same print.

 - D -

deckle     The untrimmed feathery edge of a  handmade sheet of paper.

drypoint     A nonacid intaglio process in which the plate is needled with a sharp
steel or other point.  The burr that is raised in the process is responsible for the
characteristic velvety quality of the printed line.  Drypoint information breaks down
more quickly than etched information.

 - E -

edition     The total number of identical prints pulled and authenticated by the artist.
(Signed and numbered.)

embossing     Print of a relief element on a dampened paper without ink.  The image
is revealed with a raking light falling across the physical surface of the impression. 
Sometimes referred to as “blind” embossing.

engraving     (1) Intaglio or relief process that incises lines with burins or gravers
into metal or end-grain blocks.  (2) The print made from such a plate or block.

etching     An intaglio process in which an acid-resistant coating is applied to a plate,
an image is cut into the ground with a needle and then submerged into an acid bath
to establish the image into the plate.  The incised line is then inked and printed onto
a sheet of dampened paper.

 - G -

ghost     The remaining ink on a printing matrix after a print has been pulled.  This
may be printed, or in the case of monoprint or monotype, may provide the basis for
working up a subsequent image.  Also known as “rétage” (French).

 - I -

impression     An imprint on paper of information on a printing matrix.  A proof
of a print.

intaglio     One of four major divisions of printmaking in which an image is made
by printing information that has been cut or etched into the surface of a plate.

 - K -

key matrix     The block, plate, or stone that carries the major information in a
multiple-color image.  Support matrices are generated from this key image.

 - L -

linoleum cut     The print made from an image cut into a piece of linoleum.

lithography  One of the four major divisions of printmaking.  Lithography is a
planographic process, dependent on the fact that oil and water don’t mix.  A stone
or metal plate is drawn upon with a greasy substance.  Then the  surface is chemically
etched so that some areas attract only greasy ink and nondrawn areas attract only water.
The image is inked by alternately sponging and rolling the surface of the printing matrix.
It is printed on a lithographic press.

 - M -

mixed media     In printmaking, prints made by combining two or more processes.
Also referred to as a composite.

monoprint     A one-of-a-kind image made with successive printings of information.
A monoprint is often made using a repeatable matrix in a non-repetitious fashion.

monotype     A one-of-a-kind image using drawing and painting strategies to develop an
image on a smooth surface.  The information is then printed on a sheet of paper.

multiple     A work of art that exists in duplicated examples that are all considered original.

 - O -

original     In printmaking, original refers to the intent of the artist to exploit the
unique properties intrinsic to the various printmaking media.  The original print has
the potential to exist in multiple.

- P -

planographic     Printing from a flat surface.  See lithography.

pochoir     A stencil printing process where ink is brushed through a series of stencils
to achieve a final color image.

pull     To make a print by transferring the ink onto paper either by hand or with a press.

 - R -

relief printing    One of the four major divisions of printmaking.  The image is printed
from ink on the surface of wood, linoleum, or other flat surface.  Nonprinting areas have
been cut away.

retroussage     A manner of wiping intaglio plates that provides a softer characteristic to
the printed line.  By pulling a cheesecloth across the wiped plate, a little of the ink is pulled
out of the incised lines.

 - S -

serigraphy     One of the four major divisions of printmaking.  Images are made by
forcing ink through a stencil on a screen stretched with a fine silk or similar fabric

state proof     A proof that shows an image in a particular finished state of development.
A variation of an image before its final state.

surface roll     Ink applied to the relief surface of an intaglio plate.

- W -

woodcut    A relief print made from the plank grain woodblock cut with gouges and knives.




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