Printed by Hand: Original Prints by NKU Printmaking Students

Eva G. Farris Reading Room, W. Frank Steely Library, Northern Kentucky University

January 11, 2010 - April 9, 2010

All of the prints in this exhibit are original works of art, hand made on a “matrix,” or surface for printing, using woodblocks, linoleum blocks, metal plates, Plexiglas or silk-screens. Most all are “multiple originals” and are made in limited editions. Two are one-of-a-kind monotypes.

The students created these prints during the fall semester of 2009 in the Introduction to Printmaking, Techniques in Printmaking and Intermediate/Advanced printmaking classes.


  1. Wood block / Linocut (Relief) - A block of birch plywood or battleship linoleum is prepared with an image that is hand drawn and/or transferred to the block in reverse. The block is then cut out in the non-image areas. Ink is then rolled onto the relief surface, or image area, of the block. Paper is centered on the block and either printed by rubbing the back by hand, or by running it through the press. Multiple colors require multiple printings, one for each color. (“Media Zombie,” “Self Portrait”)

  2. Intaglio (line etch) - A zinc or copper plate is prepared with a wax “ground.” The image is then transferred to the plate by drawing it in reverse using transfer paper. The artist then redraws the image with an etching needle to remove the ground, exposing the drawn areas of the plate to the acid. The plate is then etched using a dilute nitric acid bath. The plate is covered with ink and then the surface is wiped clean, leaving ink in the lines. Wet paper is then centered over the image, and it is run through the press removing the ink from the lines.

    Intaglio (aquatint) - The zinc plate is spray painted so it is covered with a 50% dot pattern. Areas of the image are stopped-out by painting them with varnish to create shapes and shaded areas. The longer an area is etched, the darker the shade or tone. The spray paint is removed, the plate is covered with ink, and the surface is wiped clean, leaving ink in the etched areas around the dots. Wet paper is then centered over the plate and it is then run through the press. Often the plate is etched with line first, and then the aquatint process is applied as a secondary etching step. (“Simplicity,” “Hair #3”)

  3. Dry Point (Intaglio, no acid)- An image is drawn onto a Plexiglas or metal plate and incised or scratched with a sharp xacto knife or other tool. Ink is carded into the deep areas of the plate and wiped clean on the surface, leaving ink in the lines. Wet paper is centered over the image and run through the press. A dry-point has a characteristic bur that catches ink, causing the printed line to have a soft, smudged appearance. (“Siren”)

  4. Monotype (reduction) - A blank plate is covered with ink and the image is wiped out with rags, Q-tips, mat board chips, etc. then it is run through the press with printing paper. Only one print can be pulled since the image is not permanently created on the surface. A second and much lighter impression can be taken of the ink remaining on the plate and this is called a “ghost.” (“Dark Science”)

  5. Monotype (trace) - A blank plate is rolled with ink and a piece of paper is centered over it. The artist draws on the back of the paper to transfer the ink to the surface of the paper. It is not run through the press. The trace monotype can be used effectively on top of the ghost of a previous image. (“Pooter”)

  6. Screen Print (serigraph, silkscreen) - A screen made of polyester fabric is blocked out by various stenciling methods: hand painting, cut paper, or a light sensitive photo emulsion liquid. When a transparency of the black and white image is placed on the dry emulsion, a UV light hardens the emulsion where the image is white, and does not harden it where the image is black. The stencil is then washed out, leaving the screen open in the non-image areas. The ink is pushed through the mesh where the screen had been left open. (“Disappointed” “1970 Dodge Challenger”)

Andrea Knarr, Printmaking Coordinator, January 11, 2010.

Steely Library phone number:  859.572.5457