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Glossary of Printmaking Terms

Home/Glossary of Printmaking Terms

‘How do I Sign a Print?’ What is an edition? Prints and Printmaking – a very short intro to terms and protocols.

(Thank you to Ink Masters Cairns)

Glossary of Printmaking and Papermaking Terms 

(Thanks Annie Day, printmaking sisters!)

A

Acetate: Clear plastic sheet used for registering plates, blocks and to create monotypes and stencils.
Acid: An acid solution used to etch lines and tone into metal plates. Safer printmaking alternatives are Ferric Chloride and copper sulphate solution.
Acid Free: Paper with a pH value of 7 or higher is considered to be acid free.
Acrylic ground/stopout:Acrylic based bitumen paint, no VOCs water washout. Clean-up with Vegetable Cleaning Agent. Safe alternative to Bitumen based grounds
A la Poupee’: French,” with a dolly” The inking of an intaglio plate with several different colours, using a separate brush, cotton bud, pad or rolled felt dolly for each colour.
Alpha Cellulose: High grade wood pulp used in papermaking.
Aluminium Etching: This safer printmaking process uses a copper sulphate solution on aluminium plate. One feature of this method is the beautiful rich aquatints which are created by the reaction of the copper sulphate on the surface of the aluminium.
Aluminography: Lithography, using aluminium plates. See also Waterless Lithography.
Aquatint: An intaglio process used to create areas of tone. Fine rosin dust is sprinkled over the plate and fused to it with heat prior to biting. A less toxic method of achieving tone is to spray with enamel paint.
Artist’s Proof: 10% of the total number of prints in an edition remain the property of the artist, and are called Artist’s Proofs.
Archival Quality: A term used to denote materials having a high degree of permanence.
Autolithography: Lithography, where the image is drawn directly onto the plate or stone.

B

Bank Paper: A thin wood pulp paper – used as cheap copy paper.
Baren: A Japanese tool used in printing woodblocks. Made of bamboo leaves.
Bath:  A tray containing the etchant.
Blind printing: Placing damp paper over an un-inked plate or block to achieve an embossed image.
Bourne Scale:  A measurement of viscosity of printing inks.
Beater:  The machine used in paper making to separate the raw fibres and mix them with water, forming a pulp.
Bench Hook: A device to hold relief blocks during the cutting process.
Bevel: The slope on the edge of an etching plate, created to prevent cutting the paper or blankets while printing.
Binder: The adhesive substance that holds pigment together
Bite: Action of the etchant on the exposed metal plate in the etching bath.
Bitumen: A form of pitch, toxic, resembling asphalt. In safer printmaking an acrylic substitute is available.
Blanket: Presses or woven woollen felt, used as a cushion between the roller and the paper on an etching press. Various names are applied to the blankets -American terminology uses starch – catcher, pusher and cushion. English terms used are fronting and swan skin or swanscloth.
Bleaching: Reducing the satin on paper with chlorine or a similar chemical.
Bleeding: Ink appearing in unintended areas of a print, Also refers to the deliberate printing of an image past the edge of the sheet.
Bleed Print:  A print where the image is printed up to the edge of the paper.
Blind Emboss:  An embossed image in paper – not inked.
Block: The material from which the image is cut or engraved.
Blotter: Heavy absorbent paper used to take up excess moisture from dampened paper prior to printing. Also used as an interleaf during drying of prints.
Body: Density or viscosity of ink.
Bon A Tlrer: (French: “Good to Pull”) Identifies a proof which will serve as the standard to be maintained during the printing of an edition. Also written as “OK” or “Ready to Print”. Sometimes known as a printer’s proof, it remains the property of the printer.
Bond Paper: A thin tough woodpulp paper – also known as photocopy paper.
Bonding Strength: The property of a sheet of paper which allows it to withstand “picking” – the Pulling away of part of the surface which can occur particularly when printing large solid-colour areas
Brayer: A small hard roller used for applying ink to a plate or block.
Bridge: A support for the hand. Generally made of wood. Used in intaglio to keep the hand away from the plate when drawing into soft ground.
Buffered Paper: Alkaline filler – either calcined carbonate or, more effectively, magnesium carbonate, is added to paper to counteract the action of acids it may come in contact with.
Burin: Engraving tool with a hardened steel shaft
Burnish: To reduce the depth of any detail in an intaglio plate by heavy polishing.
Burnisher: A highly polished hand tool: Used to flatten detail in intaglio plates by intense rubbing.
Burnt Plate Oil: A variant of linseed oil used in mixing inks.
Burr: In drypoint, the ridge of metal thrown up on either side of the needle as it scratches into the plate. In mezzotint, the surface created by the action of the rocker.
Butcher’s Paper: See newsprint.

C

Calcium Carbonate: Whitening, used as an abrasive for cleaning etching plates. The main constituent of lithographic stones. No significant health hazard.
Calendering: Rolling during papermaking to impart a smooth glossy finish. Can be applied to the finished paper in the studio, in order to pre-stretch or condition it prior to printing.
Calliper: The thickness of a sheet of paper, usually expressed in thousands of an inch.
Carborundum: A very hard, fine abrasive powder, used on collagraph plates or to grind down lithography stones.
Carborundum Aquatint: Carborundum powder adhered with PVA glue to an intaglio plate to print as a tonal area.
Catalogue Raissonne: A complete list of prints by an artist. It includes titles, dates, editions and condition of all known prints.
Caustic Etch: Caustic soda solution etches away the oil based binder in linoleum. In linocuts, results in a grainy surface resembling an aquatint tone. Caustic soda is highly toxic and concentrated solutions are highly corrosive.
Cellulose: An inert substance derived from the cell wall of plants and trees. Used in papermaking.
Cellulose Gum: A synthetic gum used in lithography. The sodium salt of caeboxy methyl cellulose (abbreviated as CMC).
Chalcography: Originally an engraving on copper. The term now applies to any metal engraving.
Chalking: Pigment without enough binder will rub away from a print, or over-absorption of the binder into the paper.
Charcoal Block: Used with water for polishing metal plates.
Charge: To roll up with ink.
Chiaroscuro:  Italian term meaning extreme gradations from light to dark.
Chinagraph Pencil:  A greasy pencil, useful for crayon resist for drawing in screen-printing.
Chine Colle:  The process for simultaneously printing a thin sheet of sized Oriental paper and adhering it to a thicker backing sheet by virtue of the pressure of the printing process. Can be achieved by planographic or intaglio printing.
Chop:  A small embossed mark made in the margin of a print which identifies the printer or publisher.
Chromolithograph: A color lithograph usually involving a large number of lithographic stones to allow a complex color separation. The term is often used to describe late 19th century color lithographs that emulate or reproduce paintings.
Coated Paper:  Paper which has been surfaced with a substance, to provide a smooth glossy printing surface.
Cockling:  A wavy effect in paper caused by uneven drying.
Cold Pressed Paper:  Also known as CPP, paper finished under pressure between unheated metal sheets, resulting in a medium-rough surface.
Collagraph:  A print of a collage. The plate is usually built up by gluing a variety of low relief textural materials – anything that would hold ink, to a cardboard plate. The plate is then inked and printed in relief or intaglio on an etching press.
Collector’s Mark:  An inked or embossed chop made in the margin of a print, indicating ownership.
Collotype:  Commercial photomechanical process of printing – not to be confused with collagraph. The image is printed from a gelatine surface on a glass support. The effect is akin to a continuous tone without the use of a halftone screen.
Colophon:  An inscription found at the beginning or end of a book, including the printers name and other information relevant to the publication.
Colour Separation:  The photographic separation of a full colour image into its constituent primaries by the use of filters.
Composite Print: 
Any print combining any number of techniques in the one work.
Composition Roller:  A roller made of synthetic rubber or plastic.
Conservation Board:  See museum board.
Contact Print:  Photographic print made with the negative in contact with the emulsion of the film of the paper.
Contact Screen:  A photographically made halftone screen.
Continuous Tone:  A photographic image that contains a complete range of tones.
Contraries:  Unwanted or unneeded particles of foreign materials found in finished sheets of paper.
Cotton Linters:  Short cotton fibres remaining after the ginning of the cotton boll by the textile industry. They are used as source of cellulose in papermaking. (Cotton is the purest form of cellulose occurring in nature, and requires the least processing as a papermaking material) available pre-processed in the form of blotter like sheets of dried pulp.
Couching:  In papermaking, the process of transferring the freshly made sheet from the mould onto a felt blanket prior to pressing.
Counterproof:  A proof obtained by offsetting a wet print onto a sheet of paper. The wet print may also be offset onto a plate, block, or stone. The image is always identical with the image on the plate.
C.P:  “Chemically pure”-indicating a high grade of chemicals, free of all impurities detectable by chemical analysis.
C.P:  Cold pressed paper.
Creeping Bite:  With one end of the plate already in the acid, the remainder of the plate is gently lowered into the bath over a period of time.
Cuffs:  Leather sleeves placed over handles of rollers during inking up to prevent injury to the hands.
Curl:  In paper, the rolling inward of the edges due to the changes in temperature and humidity.
Cut Block Print:  See jigsaw print.
Cyanoype:  Known as a blueprint cyanotype was a process discovered with the advent of photography. The print is Prussian blue in colour and made by exposing an object or a negative in contact with prepared paper to the sun or an ultra violet light source. The paper is then simply washed under running water and allowed to dry.
Cylinder Machine:  A papermaking machine featuring a wire covered cylinder on which the pulp is formed into a continuous web of paper.

D

Dabber:  A rounded cotton pad covered with silk, or leather, pushes ink into lines of an intaglio plate, also used for applying melted grounds.
Dandy Roll:  In machine papermaking, a roll with a wire design used for imparting a water mark to the freshly formed paper.
Deacidification:  A process in which alkaline buffer – often calcium or magnesium carbonite is introduced into paper, so as to retard the deterioration of the paper.
Deckle:  The removable frame which surrounds the mould during the paper.
Deckle Edge:  The irregular edge of the sheet of handmade paper, caused when the deckle is removed from the mould. The effect is often simulated in machine – made papers.
Deep Etch:  In intaglio, the deep biting of an open area to achieve a heavily embossed surface in the print.
Diamond Point:  Diamond tipped needle used in drypoint. Tungsten carbide points are a cheaper alternative.
Dimensional Stability:  In paper the ability of a sheet to resist stretching or shrinkage under stress of other conditions.
Direct Photostencil:  In screen-printing, a photosensative emulsion applied directly to the mesh prior to exposure, development and washout.
Dished:  A stack of paper that does not lie flat, but has a concave appearance.
Dot Screen:  Also known as Stochastic Screen. It is a random dot screen which has space between each dot and it gives the appearance of a rich continuous tone to artwork when used to create photopolymer plates.
Draw Tool:  A hook shaped cutting tool used to score metal plates in order to bend and snap them along a straight line.
Driers:  Substances added to inks to speed the drying process. Also called siccatives.
Drypoint:  An intaglio technique where lines are scratched directly into the plate, without the use of acid. The burr thrown up by the needle gives the print a velvety appearance.

E

Edition:  The total number of prints pulled from the plate, stone, etc, numbered and signed by the artist.
Electrostatic Printing:  Photocopier process where dry pigments are attracted to the surface of a material by means of an electric charge.
Emboss:  Raised pattern impressed into a sheet of paper.
End Grain:  Timber which has been sawn across the log, with a uniform grain structure for wood engraving.
Engraving:  An intaglio technique where the image is cut directly into the plate with a sharp engraving tool.
E’preuvre d’ etat:  French term, artist’s proof.
E’prevure d’ etat:  French term, state proof.
Esparto:  A Spanish or Algerian grass, from which a strong smooth paper is made.
Etch:  In lithography, an acid solution used to desensitise the non-drawn areas of the stone or plate. Intaglio to bite into the exposed drawing on a plate with an etchant solution.
Etching:  An intaglio process resulting from the action of an etchant, formerly an acid, upon a metal plate, where an image has been drawn through an etchant-resistant ground on the surface of the plate. The term also refers to the print pulled from such a plate. Safer etchants are used in the present day, for example, copper sulphate solution or Ferric Chloride.
Ethyl Alcohol:  See methylated spirits.
Expansion:  Change in the dimensions of a sheet of paper due to the excess humidity, expansion is greater across the grain, than with it.
Extender:  White or colourless pigment matter used with ink to add body, and or increase coverage.

F

Felt:  In papermaking, the felt blankets laid between fresh couched sheets of paper to pressing out of the excess water. In intaglio, the blankets, used on the etching press.
Felt Side:  The top side of a sheet of paper: the printing side.
Ferric Chloride:  Also known as perchloride of iron. Used as an etchant for copper, the resulting line is similar to that achieved with Dutch mordant. The plate can be etched face down to prevent sediment forming in the bitten lines. Relative Toxicity rating: Skin, moderate: ingestion, moderate: inhalation, moderate.
Fibrillation:  In papermaking, the beating and separation of the fibres to form pulp.
Filler:  A chemically inert substance added to paper to give it a smooth printing surface. Also a chemically inert substance added to inks to give them body, or as a means of economising when using expensive pigments.
Flash Point:  The temperature at which a liquid will ignite in air.
Flat Bed Press:  A printing press having a flat bed upon which the inked plate and paper are placed.
Foul Bite:  In intaglio, small pit marks on the plate where etchant has inadvertently bitten through a faulty ground.
Foxing:  Brown stains appearing on sheets of paper, caused by chemical action upon iron salts present in the paper.
French Chalk:  (Talcum) See talc. Toxic, substitute with corn flour.
Fronting:  An English term for the thin blanket placed directly over the paper in intaglio printing.
Frottage:  A direct print taken from a surface by rubbing.
Future/One Go:  Acrylic floor polish used as stop out in lower toxic etching techniques

G

Gampi:  A plant used in the manufacture of Japanese paper. The paper is very durable, translucent, and non absorbent. Usually formed on a screen covered with a silk cloth, no chain lines.
Gauffrage:  Blind embossing. Performed by hand using a tool as a gaffer, or goffer.
Gauge:  The thickness of a metal plate expressed as number.
Gelatine:  A glutinous substance obtained from animal tissues. Used as a size.
Ghost:  The image of a previous drawing may appear onto a litho stone when it is wet.
Ghost Print:  A print taken from the plate as a second print without re-inking, re’tirage.
Giclée: An Iris print, the name derives from the French for “spurt.”
Gillotage: A relief process made by transferring a lithographic image to a metal plate that is then etched to produce a relief plate. The term is also used inaccurately to indicate varieties of photomechanical relief printing.
G.S.M:  The weight of one square metre of a given paper expressed in grams. Although a heavier paper is usually thicker than a lighter one, the weight is not directly related to the thickness of the paper, but to the density of the paper.
Gouge:  A cutting tool with a broad curved edge, used to clear large areas of unwanted material from relief blocks.
Gradated Roll:  See rainbow blend.
Grain (paper):  The direction in which the cellulose fibres run in a sheet of paper.
Grain (wood):  The direction in which the cellulose fibres run in a piece of timber.
Grain (stone):  The textured surface of a prepared lithographic stone.
Grain (metal):  The textured surface of a prepared lithographic plate. The term also refers to the molecular structure of any metal.
Graver:  A burin, the term applies to wood engraving tools.
Ground:  In traditional etching, an acid resistant coating of beeswax, rosin and asphaltum, rolled or dabbed onto the plate. In new lower toxic forms of etching the ground may also be composed of any material which will block the etchant from the metal such as One Go/Future floor polish, wax crayon. The drawing is scratched through the ground.
Grounded Wood Pulp:  Paper making pulp formed by mechanically grinding logs.
Gum Acacia:  See gum arabic.
Gum Arabic:  Gum acacia: Used as a blackout in lithography. The gum is collected as it flows from the branches and trunk of the acacia tree. (Relative toxic rating. Skin, slight, ingestion, slight: inhalation, slight)
Gum Etch:  In lithography, a mixture of gum arabic and nitric acid used in de-sensitising or etching a stone or plate.

H

Halo:  The seepage of oil into the surrounding paper where an image has been printed with an overly oily ink.
Hard Ground:  Used in etching (see ground).
Hard Sizing:  The sizing of finished sheets of paper where the sheet is dipped into the size, allowed to dry and then dipped a second time. The term also applies to paper sized as pulp in the beater – as the size is distributed evenly throughout the entire sheet.
Hayter Technique: Viscosity printing is a multi-color printmaking technique that incorporates principles of relief printing & intaglio printing. It was pioneered by Stanley William Hayter. In intaglio a method of printing two or more colours of differing viscosity on the same plate. The plate needs to be etched to several levels, and the technique involves the use of hard and soft rollers with fat and lean inks.
Heliogravure: A forerunner of photogravure in which the photographic image is projected directly onto the plate rather transferred to it on an emulsion. The term “photogravure” is often used indiscriminately for both techniques.
Hickey:  An ink spot surrounded by a white halo, usually caused by a spot of dried ink or other foreign matter present on the plate or stone during printing.
Hollander Beater:  A machine for separating and beating cotton and linen fibres, in the manufacture of pulp for papermaking. Invented in Holland in 1673.
Hosho:  A strong absorbent Japanese paper white in colour with a smooth flat surface and a matt underside. Made from kozo fibres and woodpulp.
Hot Pressed Paper:  Known as HP. The paper is finished by placing it between heated metal plates and passing through heavy rollers to impart a smooth surface.

I

Impression:  A print made directly from an inked stone, plate or woodblock.
Impression Number:  The number delegated to a print in an edition.
Inkless Intaglio:  Embossing, an intaglio plate, printed without inking.
Inks:  Pigment, binder, and a vehicle.
Intaglio:  An image cut or etched into a plate.
Intaglio Relief:  An intaglio plate, inked and printed as a relief print.

J

Jigsaw Block:  A method of cutting a relief block or an intaglio plate into several pieces, each inked with a separate colour, reassembled to print the colours simultaneously.

K

Kerosene: Solvent:  A petroleum distillate. It leaves a slightly greasy residue as it evaporates, (relative toxicity rating. Skin, moderate, ingestion, moderate, inhalation, high).
Key Block/Key plate:  Block or plate which carries the main detail of a multi colour print.
Kozo:  A name loosely applied to several plants of the mulberry family. Used in Japanese papermaking – where its long fibres produce the strongest and the most dimensionally stable of the Oriental papers. Kozo paper has an absorbent surface.

L

Lacquer Thinners:  A solvent, highly toxic. Usually consists of an unspecified mixture of ketones, esters and aromatic hydrocarbons.
Laminated Paper:  Two or more sheets of paper couched together to form a thicker sheet of paper. Also referred to as a 2-ply sheet being formed from two sheets laminated together during the papermaking process.
Laid Screen:  A mould used in papermaking, where heavy brass (laid) wires, running horizontally, are supported by a lesser number of lighter vertically placed (chain) wires. Paper made with such a screen shows the distinct intersection of the two different wires, and is known as laid paper.
Laser Printing:  Print from the output from a computer. The pigment depositing process is similar to that of dry photocopiers.
LBS:  Weight of a 500 ream of paper of specified dimensions, expressed in pounds.
Leg:  In screen-printing, a hinge prop used to support the screen in the open position.
Length:  A term used in describing the consistency of inks. A long ink is pliable and elastic.
Letterpress:  A commercial relief printing process. Newspapers used to be printed by letterpress.
Lift-ground aquatint: A form of intaglio printing in which the artists draws with a specially formulated ink on a metal plate. The plate is then covered with an acid resistant ground and immersed in water. The characteristics of the drawing medium (which may be applied with a pen or brush) allow it to dissolve and work through the acid resistant ground. When bitten in acid, the final result resembles pen or brush work.
Lightfastness:  Change caused by exposure to light, particularly ultra-violet. Applies to paper and inks.
Light-sensitivity:  The ability of a material to change chemically when exposed to light.
Lignin:  A polymer which holds the cellulose fibres together in plants. Lignins in paper contribute to the acidity and eventual deterioration of the paper.
Lino:  Linoleum, a flooring material made of linseed oil and cork dust on a hessian support.
Linocut:  A relief print taken from a linoleum block.
Lithographic Crayons:  Greasy black crayons and pencils available in grades of hardness, numbered from 00 to 5. With American crayons the higher numbers represent the harder, (i.e. less greasy) grades. European crayons are numbered in the reverse order.
Lithography:  A planographic printing process, based upon the antipathy of oil and water.
Lith Stone:  Heavy limestone blocks used for printing in lithography.
Local Exhaust Ventilation:  The ventilation of a specific work-station by the use of an exhaust fan and hood.
Long:  The consistency of printing ink – can be stretched out between the finger and thumb, appearing elastic.

M

Macehead:  A stipple engraving tool has a rounded spiked head; makes an irregular pattern with pits and points.
Maculature:  In intaglio the pulling of a second print without re-inking. Also known as re’tirage and Ghost print
Magnesium Carbonate:  A chemical powder used to stiffen printing inks (non toxic).
Make ready:  A technique where a low point in a plate or block is built up from the careful placement of paper shims.
Manie’re noire:  A method of working from dark to light, as in mezzotint a pre-darkened surface is burnished back to provide the parts of the image. Also practised in lithography, where a stone is inked up and an image produced by scraping through to the underlying stone.
Margin:  The area outside the plate mark or drawn boarder of a printed image.
Mass Tone:  The colour of an ink as it appears in mass on the slab.
Mat:  See mount.
Matrix:  In printmaking the surface of – the plate, stone, block, stencil on which the image is formed for printing.
Metal Print:  A form of metal collagraph, printed intaglio. Invented by Rolf Nesch.
Methylated Spirits:  (ethyl alcohol) A solvent used in the preparation of shellac. Used sometimes as a light darkening agent. (Relative toxicity rating. Skin, slight: ingestion, slight: inhalation, moderate).
Mezzotint:  An intaglio technique where a plate, has been previously prepared to print as rich uniform black, is gradually scrapped and burnished back to form the desired image. The plate is prepared using a mezzotint rocker-a fine-toothed tool which is rocked repeatedly over the plate to produce a dense evenly burred surface.
Mezzotint Screen:  Used in photochemical work, a tint screen employing a random pattern of dots.
Migration:  The action of a pigment or dye bleeding through a dried film of ink above or below it.
Mildew:  A mould which forms on paper through the action of moisture upon bacteria.
Mineral Turps:  Refined petroleum distillate, used as a solvent for cleaning up of inks. (Relative toxicity rating. Skin, moderate: ingestion, moderate: inhalation, high).
Mitsumata:  A source of plant fibres used in Japanese papermaking. The fibres are soft and absorbent, producing a delicate paper with a slight orange colour.
Moire’ Pattern:  An optical effect caused by the interference of two strongly patterned surfaces in misalignment.
Monoprint:  Any form of print utilising any printmaking technique, or combination of techniques – where there exists only a single proof.
Monotype
A form of printmaking in which the artist draws or paints on some material, such as glass, and then prints the image onto paper, usually with a press. The remaining pigment can then be reworked, but the subsequent print will not be an exact version of the previous print. Monotypes may be unique prints or variations on a theme.
Mordant:  Intaglio, any of the etchant solutions that are used in biting a plate.
Mouldmade Paper:  Paper produced by a machine as distinct from handmade.
Mount:  A flat sheet of card, or board, with an aperture through which the image is visible when a print is framed, serves as a protective device for unframed prints.
Museum Board:  High quality acid free board used for framing and mounting of paperwork’s. Usually made from cotton or rag, it has a neutral pH value. Also known as a conservation board.

N

Nap Roller.  A leather inking roller having a fine dense nap on the outer surface. Used in lithography for printing blacks where a high degree of fidelity is needed.
Neoprene:  A synthetic rubber made from chloroprene. Resistant to oils, acids and many solvents – it is used in the manufacture of rollers, brayers, squeegees, and protective gloves.
Newsprint:  Cheap ground woodpulp paper used in printing. Also known as a butcher’s paper.

O

Offset:  To transfer wet ink from one surface to another. The term offset printing generally refers to commercial lithographic processes. The printed image reads the same as the drawing on the plate.
Oil of Cloves:  Clove oil, used in oil based inks as a retarder, to slow the drying time. (Relative toxicity rating. Skin, slight, ingestion, insignificant, inhalation, slight).
Oilstone:  An abrasive stone used for sharpening tools.
One Go/Future acrylic floor polish:  A stop out in lower toxic etching techniques
Open Bite:  In intaglio, the biting that occurs when large flat, or “open” areas of the plate are bitten. The resulting print exhibits a characteristic dark inky halo around the edge of the bitten area.

P

Paper Fingers:  Tongs of folded paper or card, used to protect paper and blankets when working with inky hands.
Pasteboard:  A lamination of a woodpulp base with two wood-free card faces. Not suitable for archival purposes.
Peau de crapeau:  A “toad skin” wash effect obtained in lithography by laying a water tusche wash on a zinc plate. A similar effect can be obtained in Waterless Lithography by mixing a small amount of detergent with powdered copier toner and painting this onto the plate.
Permanence:  A measure of the light-fastness of a pigment.
Photomechanical relief print: There were many means available by the 1880s that allowed a black line drawing to be transferred to a relief printing block by photographic means. These are generically known as line blocks and the images printed from them typically share many of the qualities of woodcut. The means of transferring the image are often complex, and can involve such techniques as etching photosensitized plates or electrotyping light-sensitive gelatin plates.
Photomechanical reproduction: This term is used to describe a variety of processes involving the transfer of a photographic image to a printing matrix, such as an etching plate, relief block, or a lithographic stone. The term is used here whenever it is not certain exactly what photomechanical process is involved.
Photopolymer Plate:  Is composed of thin steel backing with a surface coating of light sensitive photopolymer and can be used for relief and intaglio printmaking. UV light hardens the areas not blocked out by carbon (the artwork) and these unexposed areas wash out with tap water to reveal the etched surface. The plate is particularly durable and it is possible to make large editions from a photopolymer plate.
pH Scale:  A scale of volumes from 0 to 14 used to indicate the acidity or alkalinity of a substance pH value of 7 is neutral, less than 7 indicates increasing acidity, greater than 7, increasing alkalinity.
Photogravure: A means of printing a photographic image by the intaglio process. The photographic negative (which may be of an artist’s drawing) is projected onto a sensitized gelatin emulsion or carbon tissue that is transferred to a copper plate. After washing, the plate areas that correspond to the image on the negative are dissolved, and the plate can be bitten by acid as in routine etching. In hand photogravure, which is most commonly used in printmaking, the copper plate is first prepared for aquatint etching. The end result can closely resemble a traditional linear etching or soft ground etching.
Photopolymer or Solar Plate:  The plate is comprised of thin steel backing with a surface coating of light sensitive photopolymer and can be used for relief and intaglio printmaking. UV light hardens the areas not blocked out by carbon (the artwork) and these unexposed areas wash out with tap water. The plate is particularly durable and it is possible to make large editions from this plate.
Picking:  The lifting-off of fibres from the surface of paper during printing – occurs particularly in large flat areas of ink.
Pigment:  Colouring used in inks.
Planographic:  The print is taken from a flat surface, as opposed to a raised or sunken one.
Plate:  Metal upon which a printing process is carried out.
Plate Mark:  The imprint of the edges of the plate in a print.
Platen:  The iron or steel plate that pushes the paper against the inked image in a printing press.
Plate Oil:  Thickened linseed oil used in mixing etching ink to a desired consistency.
Plate Tone:  In intaglio, a faint tone produced by the thin film or ink remaining on a plate after wiping,
Plucking:  Lifting away of a portion of the papers surface during printing. It occurs particularly in large flat areas of ink.
Pochoir:  French term for stencil.
Polyurethane:  An extremely durable polymer plastic material used in rollers and squeegees.
Post:  In papermaking, a pile of alternating sheets of freshly couched paper and felts ready for pressing.
Printer’s Proof:  A proof reserved for the printer.
Process Colours:  Yellow (lemon), magenta (cold blue-red) and cyan (blue-green
Progressive Proofs:  A series of proofs of a multi colour print showing the progressive addition of the individual colours to the image.
Proof:  An inked impression pulled from an inked plate, block, stone, or screen.
Pull:  To take an impression from an inked plate, block etc.
Pulp:  The basic papermaking ingredient – consisting of a rag or vegetable fibres chopped and beaten within water.
Pumice:  A porous volcanic stone, used as a corrective eraser in lithography and intaglio.
Pusher:  The thick woven blankets placed closer to the roller in an intaglio press.
P.V.A:  Polyvinyl acetate. White glue.
P.V.C: Polyvinyl chloride, a polymer plastic that is resistant to most solvents and used in the manufacture of composition rollers and protective gloves.

R

Rag Paper:  Paper made from 100% cotton or linen.
Rainbow Blend:  The effect produced when two or more adjacent colours on a roller, or silk-screen, are blended together forming a gradation.
Ream:  500 sheets of paper.
Recto:  The front of a sheet of paper.
Reducer:  An oil or varnish used to modify the consistency of a litho, intaglio or relief ink
Register:  Multiple printed images in correct alignment upon the surface of the paper
Register Marks:  Fine crosses or T marks, drawn or printed in the opposite margins of a print as a guide to registration.
Registration:  Correct placement of an image on a previously printed image on the same print.
Relief Etching:  See intaglio-relief
Relief Printing:  Printing from an ink raised surface.
Resin:  A hard substance exuded from the trunks of pines, used in the distillation of turpentine – the resulting residue is rosin.
Resist:  Any substance when dry becomes resistant to the action of either an acid, alkali, or solvent.
Restrike:  A reprinting from the plate after the edition is completed, often after the artist is deceased. Restrikes are not usually signed or numbered.
Retarder:  A substance added to inks to slow their drying rate, keeping them workable for a longer time.
Retirage:  See maculature.
Retree:  In papermaking, handmade sheets containing minor imperfections -also known as mill seconds.
Retroussage:  In intaglio, a means of enriching the lines of a whipped plate by gently flicking them with a loose piece of tarlatan, causing some of the ink to lift out of the plate.
Retting:  Fungi and bacteria on water soaked rags used as a means of decomposing them for papermaking.
Reverse Etching:  See intaglio relief.
Rice Paper:  Oriental papers. Genuine “rice paper” is a paper like substance sliced from the pitch of Taiwanese tree, Arcacia papyrifera.
Rocker:  A rounded steel tool with numerous fine teeth, used in intaglio printmaking to pit the surface of the plate, as a preparation for mezzotint.
Roller:  A tool used for applying ink. Made from rubber or neoprene, it is shaped like a rolling pin, with handles at its extremities, as distinct from a brayer. Lithographic rollers are often made of leather.
Rosin:  A by-product in the process where by turpentine is distilled from pine trees, a fine dust it is used in aquatints. Melts when heated. (Relative toxicity rating. Skin, slight: ingestion, moderate: inhalation, high). Not used in safer printmaking techniques.
Rubbing:  A print produced by rubbing ink or pencil across a thin sheet of paper placed over a raised surface. Frottage.
Roulette:  A tool with raised lines or dots in a wheel, used to make an irregular texture on an intaglio plate. Can be used directly upon the surface of the plate, or through a hard ground.

S

Salt Aquatint:  In intaglio, a tonal effect obtained by sprinkling salt over a hot thinly grounded plate. The salt is dissolved in water after the plate has cooled.
Sandpaper Aquatint:  In intaglio, a tonal effect obtained by putting a grounded plate through the press with a sheet of sand paper face down on the surface.
Score:  To lightly incise the surface of a sheet or card
Scraper:  In intaglio a three faced tool used to erase unwanted detail from the plate by scraping away the surrounding metal. Also used to remove the burr formed during engraving.
Scraper Bar:  In lithography, a leather or synthetic covered wooden blade, which presses the paper against the stone or plate during printing.
Screen:  The frame and stretched mesh used in screen-printing. In photomechanical work, the glass sheet or acetate film used to create half tones and mechanical tints.
Screen-printing:  A stencil printing technique, where the stencil is supported by a tightly stretched fine woven silk or synthetic mesh.
Scumming:  Unwanted accumulation of ink on the surface of a lithographic stone or plate.
Sensitiser:  Any chemical known caused to cause skin allergies or dermatitis, in those who are susceptible, the allergy develops slowly over numerous exposures, however once established in the system, the will react to even slight further exposures. Mineral turps is a known sensitiser, as are turpentine and many photographic chemicals.
Serigraphy:  A term originated by Carl Zigrosser to indicate the use of screen-printing as a fine arts process, as distinct from commercial printing.
Set-Off:  Impression made on the back of a print, when it is stacked on the back of a wet print.
Shellac:  A varnish made of lack resin dissolved in methylated spirits. Used as a waterproof sealant for wooden screen frames, paper tapes, collagraphs etc. Safer printmaking alternatives, watered down PVA glue, watered down Gesso.
Shim:  A piece of thin packing material – paper or card, or metal, used to raise the bar when screen printing onto thick materials.
Short Ink:  Ink that is stiff, cannot be drawn out between the finger and thumb without breaking.
Shukushi:  Japanese term for recycled paper.
Siccative:  See dryers.
Silicone Carbide:  See carborundum.
Silk-screen:  The frame and stretched mesh used in screen printing. Silk has been replaced with synthetic meshes.
Silver print: A photographic print utilizing paper impregnated with silver nitrate (distinct from a platinum print, for example).
Sizing:  A water resistant material added to paper, either after or during its manufacture.
Sizing Catcher:  Thin smooth etching blanket placed directly over the dampened sheet of paper during printing.
Slip Sheet:  A sheet of tissue paper placed between freshly pulled prints, to prevent the wet ink offsetting onto the other prints.
Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate):  Also known as washing soda. A toxic alkali. Corrosive to skin and eyes. Used to neutralise acids prior to their disposal.
Sodium Hydroxide:  Caustic soda used in an etchant for lino.
Soft ground etching: An etching technique in which the plate is covered with malleable ground through which a variety textures can be pressed, allowing them to be etched into the plate. For example, a piece of paper laid on top of a soft grounded plate can be drawn upon with a pencil, and the resulting etched image will resemble a pencil line drawn on paper. To be distinguished from “hard ground” used for simple line etching.
Soft Sized Paper:  Paper which has been sized passing only once through the sizing solution.
Solander Box:  A flat, dust free box designed for the storage of works on paper
Solar Plate:  Is composed of thin steel backing with a surface coating of light sensitive photopolymer and can be used for relief and intaglio printmaking. UV light hardens the areas not blocked out by carbon (the artwork) and these unexposed areas wash out with tap water to reveal the etched surface. The plate is particularly durable and it is possible to make large editions from a photopolymer plate.
Solvent:  A substance, usually liquid, which is capable of dissolving others.
Spit Biting:  An etching technique where concentrated acid is brushed directly onto the plate. The acid is confined to a particular area by first painting a wetting area over the area to be bitten. Saliva was traditionally agent, hence the name.
Spray Ground Aquatint:  Aquatint ground applied by spraying the plate with a pressure can of enamel.
Squeegee:  A plastic or rubber blade in a holder, used to force ink through the mesh in screen-printing.
Starch:  A substance used in the preparation of adhesive pastes. Starch is released from the flours of wheat, rice, rye, or maize. A paste may be made while boiling rice flour in hot water.
State:  A term for a proof that shows a work in a particular stage of development.
Stencil:  A sheet of thin paper, metal, or plastic with open areas through which ink is brushed , rolled or squeegeed, to print an image.
Stencil Paper:  In screen-printing, 44gsm bank paper is used for hand cut paper stencils.
Steel Engraving:  The engraving process applied to steel plates.
Steel Facing:  In intaglio, an electronic process which deposits a very thin layer of steel over the face of a completed copper plate. Steel facing provides are harder surface, allowing a larger print run before the plate wears down.
Stipple:  In etching and engraving, the massing of line closely spaced dots to form tonal effect.
Stop Out:  In intaglio, an etchant resistant substance applied to a plate to prevent further biting in a given area.
Stochastic Screen:  Also known as Dot Screen. It is a random dot screen which has space between each dot and it gives the appearance of a rich continuous tone to artwork when used to create photopolymer plates.
Struck Off:  The amount of an edition that has already been printed.
Sugar aquatint: A method of making an aquatint that has qualities akin to a brush drawing. The design is painted on the plate with black, gamboge and caster sugar mixed with a little water. The plate is then brushed over with stopping-out varnish, and left to soak in water overnight. During this time the water somehow penetrates the varnish, causes the sugar mixture to swell and lift the varnish exposing the metal. Picasso used this manner a number of times; it provides the artist with great freedom.
Sugarlift:  In etching, a resist drawing method, where by a positive drawing is converted to a positive printing image on a plate. Also referred to as a lift ground.
Suite:  A group of original prints having a common theme, often issued in a portfolio.
Sulphite Wood Pulp:  Papermaking pulp produced from woodchips by the chemical action of bisulphate of lime. Also known as chemical woodpulp.
Sulphur ground: A technique in which a caustic sulphur compound is painted directly on an etching plate, or in which sulphur dust is otherwise applied to a plate. The resulting marks will hold ink and can be printed like an etching. The technique typically creates blotchy expanses of grey tones. This might be compared to printing rust marks on a steel or iron plate.
Sumi:  Chinese black ink.
Surface Rolled:  Ink applied to the surface of a plate, block, or stone, using a roller or brayer.
Swan skin, Swanscloth:  English term for the thick woven blanket placed closest to the roller in an intaglio process.

T

Tack:  A term used in describing the stickiness of an ink film to separate cleanly from one surface to another during printing.
Talc:  (Talcum-hydrous magnesium silicate – also known as French chalk. Can sometimes contain asbestos) a powder used for dusting lithographic plates and stones. Not used in safer printmaking because due to toxicity.
Tallow:  A pure fat used in reconditioning lithographic rollers. Also used in an ingredient in soft grounds for etching.
Tarlatan:  A thin stiff cotton fabric used for wiping intaglio plates. Also known as muslin.
Thixotropy:  Property of an ink which makes it more flexible when worked and less flexible after standing.
Thread Count:  The number of threads per inch, or centimetre, in a fabric applies to screen-printing meshes.
Tint Tool:  An engraving tool capable of cutting multiple lines.
Tonal Gradation:  A range of values from light to dark.
Tooth:  In screen-printing the term refers to the roughened surface of the mesh necessary for the adherence of stencils. In lithography it is the roughness of the stone as prepared by graining.
Tooth:  In paper, a description of the surface, and the degree of texture it exhibits.
Torinoko:  A Japanese paper, white, contains 20% kozo fibre.
Toxic:  Poisonous, a substance can be classed as toxic by inhalation, ingestion or absorption through the skin.
Toxicity:  The ability of a substance to cause damage to the human body.
Transfer Paper:  A specially coated paper, used in lithography to transfer a drawing to a stone or plate.
Transparency:  A transparent positive photograph.
Transparent Base:  Particularly in screen-print, aluminium stearate or similar substance used to make the ink transparent.
Trap:  The small area of overlap between adjacent colours on a print.
Trapping(ink): In multiple plate printing, the ability of printing ink to accept ink films from succeeding impressions.
Trapping (Print):  In multiple plate intaglio printing, the end of the paper is often left trapped under the roller to keep it in register for succeeding plates.
Trial Proof:  A proof pulled to determine the appearance of the image.
Tub Sized:  Paper which has been sized in a tub, or vat after it has been formed into a sheet.
Turps:  See Mineral turps. (Relative toxicity rating. Skin, moderate: ingestion, moderate: inhalation, high).
Tusche:  Grease based drawing material containing wax, tallow, soap, shellac, and lampblack. Available in both solid and liquid form, it is used mainly in lithography.
Tympan:  A smooth flat plate, usually greased, placed between the blotter and scrapper bar on a lithographic press to assist passing through the press under pressure.

U

Ukiyo-e:  Classic Japanese woodcuts depicting the floating world.
Undercutting: In relief and intaglio, cutting or biting outwards below the surface of the block or plate.
Vegetable Cleaning Agent VCA: In relief and intaglio, cutting or biting outwards below the surface of the block or plate.
Safer alternative to harmful cleaning agents like mineral turps, vegetable oil based no VOCs

V

Velin:  French term for wove paper.
Viscosity:  The ease with which a liquid is seen to flow. The opposite of fluidity.
Viscosity Printing:  In intaglio a method of printing two or more colours of differing viscosity on the same plate. The plate needs to be etched to several levels, and the technique involves the use of hard and soft rollers with fat and lean inks.
Volatile:  Evaporation at normal temperatures.

W

Washi:  The Japanese term for hand made papers produced in that country.
Washing Soda:  (Sodium Carbonate) see soda ash.
Wash Out:  In lithography, washing the stone or plate with turps to remove the greasy drawn image prior to rolling up with ink.
Waterleaf:  A paper made without sizing.
Waterless Lithography:  The safer alternative to traditional lithography. The technique enables the artist to create a lithographic image in a swift and effortless manner. The procedure uses recycled aluminium offset plates and a silicone mixture to repel ink instead of water as in the traditional method. The plates are printed on an etching press. The process is far less toxic to the printmaker than traditional lithography.
Watermark:  An identifying mark in printed in a sheet of paper during its manufacture. Shows as lighter in tone than the surrounding paper when held to the light.
Wavy Edges:  Can occur in a pack of paper when the edges of the sheets have absorbed moisture and expanded.
Wet on Dry:  Printing one colour over another which has been allowed to dry.
Wet on Wet:  Printing one colour over another whilst the first is still wet.
Wet Wash:  In lithography, a technique used for washing out the drawing from a too heavily gummed plate or stone.
Whetstone:  An abrasive stone used with water for sharpening metal tools.
White Spirit:  Mineral turps.
Whiting:  Calcium carbonate. Used as an abrasive with ammonia in the degreasing of etching plates. No significant health hazards.
Wiping:  In intaglio, the removal of ink from the surface of the plate after inking up, leaving the ink only in the detail.
Wire Side:  The side of a sheet of paper that was in contact with the wire screening during manufacture.
Woodcut:  A relief printing process where the image is cut on the plank side of the wood.
Wood Engraving:  A relief printing process where the image is cut on the end grain of the wood.
Wood Free:  Paper which does not contain ground wood pulp, the term generally refers to paper containing chemical wood pulp, and should not be confused with rag or cotton paper.
Woodpulp Paper:  Paper made entirely or primarily from cellulose derived from woodpulp.
Working Proof:  A trial proof with additions and corrections.
Wove Paper:  Paper produced on a woven screen.
Wove Screen:  A screen, or mould used in papermaking, consisting of fine brass wires of equal weight woven in both directions. The paper formed on it has a smooth even surface.

X

Xylography:  Wood Engraving.

Z

Zincography:  A19th Century term denoting lithography on zinc plates.