ben reid

Further reading on:

paradise lost | a bird in the hand


How are my artworks made?

My prints are often created using both drypoint and relief printing techniques. In the drypoint process, I transfer the images from a plate onto paper using a manual printing press. The press works in a similar fashion to old washing machine wringers. The plate is usually made from metal like zinc, copper or aluminum, or sometimes perspex. No acid is used to etch a drypoint plate; instead I draw directly into the plate using a sharpened metal tool. It is the physical pressure coming directly from my hand that creates the indentation in the plate. Once the plate has been ‘drawn’ it is ‘inked up’ and then wiped back, this process leaves ink sitting in the drawn lines and the undrawn areas free of ink. Printing paper is then placed against the plate and both are passed through the press together. Under pressure the image on the plate transfers to the paper.

The second process involves printing a woodblock over the top of the original drypoint print. The woodblock plate is made by firstly drawing the design onto the flat block. Then, using handheld woodcutting tools, the areas that I do not want to show in the final print are cut away. Then I run an ink-covered roller over the top of the woodblock. The ink adheres only to the remaining high or non cut away areas of the block. The woodblock plate and paper is then passed through the press as in the drypoint process.

I repeat these processes until a specific number of prints is reached. This is called the edition.

Many technical difficulties need to be overcome in order to create successful, accurate and multi-layered prints. Achieving good registration between the layers at a large scale is challenging. As is ensuring all the prints in the edition are the same and that all of the essential character and qualities of the plate is transferred to the paper.

There are certain effects, moods and qualities that can be created in original prints that can only be achieved using printmaking processes. The results are often highly original, complex and multi-layered works of art.

Ben Reid
April 2011

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