Lithograph prints are created by Chihuly in different ways, including drawing with tusche (greasy ink) onto stone or metal plates or by painting on sheets of mylar (a polyester film). One plate is needed for each colour desired in the final artwork. For example, a six colour lithograph requires six unique plates. After further preparation by the master printmaker, the plates are inked and pulled over high-quality archival paper, with one pass required for each plate used. Thus, a six-colour lithograph is run through the press six separate times.
Lithographs with Handwork
Lithographs with handwork prints are created by drawing with paint onto existing lithographs after they are pulled from the press. In this instance, each object becomes a unique work since the print itself has been directly drawn on. Chihuly signs these prints in paint.
Intaglio prints are also created in many different ways, including “biting into”, “cutting into” or incising Chihuly’s drawing onto a metal plate using techniques, such as an aquatint, spitbite, whiteground or sugarlift. After further preparation by the master printmaker, the plates are inked and the drawing is transferred to archival paper. Often times a combination of platemaking methods are used in one composition creating prints that are both ambitious and complex.
Woodcut prints are created by a composition that Chihuly has drawn onto a key woodblock. The area of the woodblock not covered by the drawing is then cut away. The relief or raised area of the drawing is inked with a dauber or roller and transferred to archival paper. Again, a five colour woodcut print is achieved by having a separate woodblock for each colour applied. In addition to the artists’ marks, the texture of the wood grain is often times, picked up by the ink, adding a further layer of aesthetic expression.
Drypoint prints are Chihuly drawings that have been scratched directly into a metal plate with a sharp metal point. Scoring the metal creates a burr or ridge of metal that holds the ink. When the plate is inked and paper is pressed against the surface, the resulting artwork has a rich velvety quality. As this process is repeated, the burr wears down and the lines become less defined. For this reason, drypoint prints are made in small editions.
Vitreograph prints are Chihuly drawings that are carved into the surface and throughout the depth of a glass plate using a subtractive process much the same as the sandblasting process. Again, each separate colour requires its own glass plate to complete the artwork as the drawing is transferred to archival paper. At times, and depending on the amount of pressure used in the process, it will leave drawing quality similar to the stippling technique.