The print is on thick Fabriano rosapina cream paper with a sumptuously soft finish, 13 inches wide by 19.5 inches tall. The original deckled edges make this print perfect for front mounting.
The etched image is 6 inches by 9 inches, signed below the print.
The series also includes Tigerlily and Iris, seen in the Flowers section of my shop.
Individual prints are $195 each, while a set of all 3 prints is $450.
Creating a soft ground etching is a remarkable and detailed process, a printmaking tradition invented in the Renaissance.
You start with a smooth metal plate cut to size (6 inches by 9 inches for the Red Poppies), then smoothed with a file to remove any sharp burrs on the edges. The metal is warmed and coated with a waxy layer called "soft ground." A thin sheet of paper is laid gently over the wax and the flower is boldly drawn with a pencil. No hesitation or erasing here! When the paper is lifted away, it removes the wax where the pencil pressed.
Now this metal plate is placed in an acid solution. Heavy rubber gloves and good ventilation needed! Though most of the surface is still protected by wax, acid seeps through where lines were drawn and eats away the metal beneath, etching the design into the plate. Timing is essential here...3 minutes? 30 minutes? The longer you expose the area to acid, the darker it will print.
When you decide the etching is complete, the plate is carefully removed, rinsed, cleaned and dried. The finished plate is smooth and shiny, with an etched Red Poppies design of tiny pits where acid ate into the metal.
At last the printing process begins. The plate is smeared thoroughly with oil-based intaglio ink, then most of the ink is wiped off using wads of cotton gauze. Only the ink that has collected down in those etched pits remains. The plate is centered on the bed of a high pressure printing press (a glorious hand-cranked machine with heavy rollers that squeeze the paper against the plate). A sheet of handmade Fabriano paper is dampened and carefully laid on top of the plate. Slowly crank rollers over the plate, and lift the printed paper at the end. Poppies design reveals themselves, deeply embossed into the creamy paper!
But wait, where did the colors come from? This print is a "chine colle", a traditional collage technique used in printmaking since the 1800's. Thin sheets of paper were printed with variegated fields of red, orange and green long before the etching process began. Detailed shapes were cut out of the colored paper, shapes of the flower petals and leaves.
Back to the printing press. Once the metal plate was inked, these thin paper shapes, with glue painted on the back, were laid on the plate, roughly on top of the petals and leaves in the design. When this "decorated" plate was sent through the etching press, the colored shapes glued themselves to the Fabriano paper as the Red Poppies image was imprinted on top.
Whew! Each step of the print is created by me. A softground etching with chine colle is a handmade labor of love!
This fine print is enclosed in sealed cello for protection and shipped flat in protective cardboard. It is mailed to you by first class postage, and may require up to 3 business days to ship out. If you require earlier shipment, please convo me first. I take the utmost care in packing your purchases so that they arrive safely and in pristine condition.
Have any questions? Contact the shop owner.