I spent most of the day today printing an edition of the engraving I did earlier in the week. Editioning is an essential part of the art of printmaking. The idea is to make each print as nearly identical as possible.
The edition begins with the bon à tirer (from French for ‘good to pull’). This is a proof that the artist is satisfied with. In a commercial shop the printers will then match each proof in the edition against this proof, discarding any that to not match it. The same thing essentially happens here, except that I am both the artist and the printer. The challange in this is getting the inking and wiping of each proof as consistent as possible. This is more difficult than it would seem. It is very easy to overwipe a plate, which results in a proof that is weak in places. It is also easy to wipe inconstently on the plate, leaving plate tone in places where you don’t anticipate. Plate tone, or a film of ink left on the surface, can sometimes be difficult to see. The key is to be as methodical as possible. I try to take my time and inspect the plate carefully as I am wiping. I find that there are often one or two ‘problem areas’ on a plate that require special attention to ensure that they are wiped consistently. I keep a close eye on these but try to make sure that I don’t focus on them too much and loose the ‘big picture’.
I printed 25 proofs today and expect to do more the next time I am in the studio. I am shooting for an edition of 35 on this one, so I will print several more than that to ensure that I can discard any that don’t measure up and still meet my target edition size.