INTALIO TECHNIQUES

    Intaglio comes from Italian, meaning "cut in". The images are engraved, scratched, incised or etched below the surface of the printing plate using a variety of techniques and tools. The process rests on the opposite principle to that of the relief print. Image to be printed is deeply cut into the plate, ink is forced into these grooves. A stiff, oily intaglio printing ink is applied to the whole surface of the plate with a rubber brayer. The plate is then gently wiped with tarlatans to remove the excess ink and drive it into the recesses (wells). It is finally wiped with the fatty part of the palm of the hand in quick glancing strokes. This removes all remaining ink from the polished highlights and high points and leaves ink only in the etched recesses. After that, the plate is placed on the printing bed of an intaglio press. It is covered with a sheet of dampened rag paper and then two to three layers of thin wool blankets. It is then run through the press at high pressure. The high pressure pushes the fibers of the dampened paper into the wells of the plate which then transfers the ink onto the paper thereby creating the impression. The paper is carefully peeled off the plate and placed between blotters and weighted so it will dry flat. The plate can now be re-inked for another impression.
     Intaglio plates can be printed and the relief process. This results is negative image - white lines on black background. Both processes can be combined on the same plate. Because of the pressure, the outline of the plate leaves a typical mark on Intaglio Prints. One of the distinguishing characteristics of this type of printing is that the dried ink impression stands up from the paper in very slight relief, perceptible by touching with the fingers or by close inspection.
    We do not know who first thought of the idea of rubbing ink into the lines incised in metal by an engraver, and then coaxing it out by pressing a dampened sheet of paper against the metal surface. But the practice seems to have begun near the beginning of the 16th century. The most common types of Intaglio Prints are: Aquatint, Drypoint, Engraving, Etching, Mezzotint, Soft Ground Etching.