5 things you might not know about printmaking

I am a printmaker.  If that statement leaves you puzzled, you’re not alone; over the years I’ve discovered that even fellow artists have only the vaguest notion of what I do.  Nothing makes me happier than getting to talk about this art form I passionately enjoy — so come on in and welcome to my world!

  1. What is printmaking?
    Printmaking arose early in the 7th century, when Chinese artisans carved texts
    and images on wooden blocks and used them to print on fabric and paper.  Soon thereafter the invention of movable type made Bibles and books accessible to ordinary people for the first time.  Print processes were also used to reproduce paintings and drawings, creating multiple — and affordable — copies of artists’ works for collectors.   Digital technology largely fills that need today, leaving printmakers free to explore printmaking as an exciting art form in its own right.
  1. A print is an original work of art!
    Have you ever walked into a store like Home Goods or Target and picked up a poster or a framed copy of a famous painting?    Although most people would call this wall décor “a print”  it’s really a reproduction.  Reproductions are mass-produced by commercial printers; in contrast, original prints  are created by individual artists, using one or more of the traditional printmaking processes.  The print may be a single unique image, or a series of multiple, identical images called an edition; either way, each print bears the mark of the artist’s hand, and is an original work of art.
  1. There are four basic types of printmaking
    …and all have this in common — instead of working directly on canvas or paper, a printmaker works on a matrix of some sort and then transfers the image from the matrix to another surface.

That may sound complicated, but in fact, if you’ve ever taken an art class in school, you’ve probably tried this:  you carved a simple image into a piece of gray linoleum — your matrix — rolled ink on it, laid down a piece of paper, and rubbed with a wooden spoon until the image transferred to the paper.  You made a print!

This process is called RELIEF printing, and is usually done with a block of wood or linoleum.  The artist carves away material from the block, and when ink is rolled on the remaining surface the carved areas don’t print.  One color requires one block; multiple colors require a different block for each color — and that same principlpic threee holds true for most printmaking methods.

For INTAGLIO printing — including etching and engraving — lines are cut into
a metal plate by engraving with a tool or using acid to etch the metal.  Ink is rubbed onto the plate and wiped off, until it remains only in the incised lines.  Damp paper is placed on the plate, and under the pressure of a press, the ink in the lines transfers to the paper.


LITHOGRAPHY  — from the Greek “lithos” (stone) and “graph” (drawing) — is a form of printmaking that uses a smooth stone as the matrix. The artist draws on the stone with a greasy crayon, then wets the stone with water, and rolls on oil-based ink.  The ink is repelled by the water and sticks to the drawing only, and a print can be taken from the stone’s surface.


pic five

SILKSCREEN is familiar as a method of printing
designs on T-shirts.  It’s also used to make fine art prints called serigraphs (literally, “drawn through silk”.)   A tightly stretched piece of fabric is the matrix.  A design is superimposed on the fabric, making a kind of stencil, then ink is pushed across it with a squeegee leaving an image on the printing surface below.

  1. Why make prints?
    If you stuck with me through the above, you may have noticed that printmaking is quite labor-intensive.  So why choose this way of making art?   For me, it’s enjoyment of the process itself.  The work engages all the senses — there are gorgeous depths of tone in the overlapping layers of ink, lush weight and texture in the paper, even pleasure in the smell of the ink.   And with endless variations and combinations of the basic four processes, there is unlimited territory to explore in this exciting medium.
  1. Where can you learn more? BCPL has books on printmaking that you can check out. Museums and many local galleries have original prints in their collections. If you’d like some hands-on experience, Tiger Lily Press in Cincinnati offers classes and workshops in printmaking.  More information can be found at their website: http://tigerlilypress.blogspot.com//index.htmlFor an interactive demonstration of how printmaking works, visit this page at the Metropolitan Museum of Art website:  http://www.moma.org/interactives/projects/2001/whatisaprint/flash.html


Kathleen Piercefield  received a BFA in Printmaking from Northern Kentucky University, and makes prints in her home studio in Dry Ridge.  She also works part-time at the Walton branch of BCPL.

Her website is  www.kpiercefield.com


Image credits:

St.George and the dragon, woodcut, Albrecht Durer

Fox Pause, linoleum block, K. Piercefield

Self Portrait, etching, Rembrandt van Rijn

Night Traveler, lithograph, K. Piercefield

Marilyn, silkscreen, Andy Warhol

MIA story resolved after 68 years (see display at library)

It was December 23, 1944 when the 33 planes of the 397th Bomb Group were sent on the mission to stop the German advance and destroy supply lines at the bridge along the Moselle River near Eller, Germany. At around 10:20 a.m. over the area of Malmedy, Belgium German antiaircraft gunners hit two of the U.S. bombers:  the first being Hunconcious and the second Bank Nite Betty.  Hunconcious was hit on the right engine causing it to go into a snap roll and Bank Nite Betty was hit in such a way that the plane split in half before they fell from the sky.  All men from both aircraft perished. At the end of the war all men were accounted for except Lt. Cook and his crew aboard the Hunconcious.

During the 1990s investigators began researching the crash and whereabouts of Hunconcious, but it wasn’t until the fall of 2006 that the mystery of Hunconcious began to unfold. A German forestry worker associated with the Airwar History Working Group Rhine-Moselle found an impact crater along with other parts of an aircraft and clothing fragments.  One most important item that was discovered was the collar of a winter bomber jacket.  The collar was marked H-7489, the ID number of Sergeant Eric Honeyman who was the toggler aboard Hunconcious.

Years passed before a proper search and excavation was done of the area.  In 2011 the History of Flight group became involved and began the process of searching and excavating the crash site.  Excavation began in the year 2012.  Large amounts of plane parts were discovered along with bone fragments from the crew members.  Bone fragments were sent to JPAC (Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command) for DNA testing to determine their identity. All crew members of the Hunconcious were positively identified and their remains were sent home to be laid to rest:

  • Pilot, William Parker Cook was buried in Oakland, California on October 26, 2014.
  • Co-pilot, Arthur J. LeFavre was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on August 18, 2015.
  • Staff Sergeant Ward Swalwell, Jr. Was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on August 20, 2015.
  • Staff Sergeant Frank G. Lane, Jr. Was buried in Willoughby, Ohio on May 2, 2015.
  • Staff Sergeant Maurice J. Fevold was buried in Badger, Iowa on October 20, 2014.
  • Sergeant Eric Honeyman was buried in British Columbia, Canada on June 22, 2015.

To honor Staff Sargeant Ward Swalwell Jr. and the other men aboard Hunconcious there will be a display at Boone County Public Library’s  Scheben Branch throughout the month of November.  Staff Sargeant  Swalwell’s sister is a resident of Boone County and we are honored to share her brother’s story.


Lindy Edmondson is a reference librarian at the Scheben Branch.  She is a graduate of Indiana University and has been with  Boone County Public Library for eight years.

Story referenced from the MIA Project : http://www.miaproject.net/mia-search-recoveries/hunconscious/