The Art Store

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The Artist Sonya Spears

The term "giclee print" represents a vast step forward in printmaking technology. Images are generated from high resolution digital scans and printed with archival quality inks onto various medium including canvas, fine art, and photo-base paper. The giclee printing process provides better color accuracy than other means of reproduction. Many websites state Giclee means "to spray"... those websites are wrong.

Giclee prints are created using professional 8-Color to 12-Color ink-jet printers. These modern technology printers are capable of producing incredibly detailed prints for both the fine art and photographic markets.

One of the four major industrial printing techniques of which the others are: letterpress, photogravure and screenprinting. It has become the most commonly used method in commercial printing, although its importance in printmaking is not very great. It is an extension of the lithographic technique: the image is picked up from the stone, or more usually plate (either zinc or aluminium which has either been grained or covered with an absorbent oxide), by a rubber roller which then reprints it onto paper. Text and image can be transferred photographically and prepared in the usual lithographic technique based on the natural antipathy between grease and water. The advantage of offset is that it enables the damping, inking and printing itself to be done by a series of rollers which enormously speeds the operation, thereby enhancing the commercial value of the technique.

The design is drawn or painted on the polished, or grained, flat surface of a stone, usually Bavarian limestone, with a greasy crayon or ink. The design is chemically fixed on the stone with a weak solution of acid and gum Arabic. In printing, the stone is flooded with water which is absorbed everywhere except where repelled by the greasy ink. Oil-based printer's ink is then rolled on the stone, which is repelled in turn by the water-soaked areas and accepted only by the drawn design. A piece of paper is laid on the stone and it is run through the press with light pressure, the final print showing neither a raised nor embossed quality but lying entirely on the surface of the paper. The design may be divided among several stones, properly registered, to produce, through multiple printings, a lithograph in more than one color. A transfer lithograph (French, autographie) employs the same technique, but the design is drawn on special transfer paper and is later mechanically transferred to the stone. A zincograph is the same technique, but employing a zinc plate rather than a stone.

A print is termed, "original" if the artist of the design has worked on the printing element himself, as opposed to reproductive and interpretative prints which involve the use of an intermediary person to reproduce the design onto the printing element. Original prints are often only produced in small numbers; they may be numbered and signed by the artist. These distinctions between reproductions (which occasionally may also be signed and numbered) and original prints are, however, generalized.

In practice the frontiers are more imprecise, particularly in commercial printing. It must be noted that some people have a much more rigorous definition of an original print than others, e. g. of a photo-mechanically produced original print of which only a very small number of impressions.

Custom Archival Framing - In framing, the materials that directly contact your art are of the greatest importance. Using non-archival (acidic) or inappropriate materials to adhere or support artwork can result in unnecessary damage and possible decrease in the artwork's monetary value. Reversibility is essential when adhesives are used to hinge artworks to their supports.

Museum Boards - Materials used at Conservation Framing Services—such as museum quality rag mat boards in a variety of widths and natural tones—are designed to protect and preserve your artwork. They are not only acid free but are designed to absorb acid from the art as well as the environment. Photographic work, for example, requires a specially treated museum board, formulated specifically for its photochemical make-up.

Backing Boards - A matted or floated artwork is backed for further protection with an acid free corrugated board or a corrugated plastic board when drastic humidity changes are a concern. It is then sealed with a paper tape, which protects the artwork while allowing an exchange of air.

Hinging is the process of attaching works on paper to a backing board, or support, often for the purpose of "floating" the artwork. This is done as an alternative to "over-matting" in which the mat is placed over the artwork. As with the selection of matting and frames, hinging must be tailored to the artwork in question. Depending on the weight of the paper on which the artwork is made, an appropriate hinge is chosen that will support the piece without restricting its natural movement over time. Hinges are made from acid free papers. Adhesives are also acid free and reversible.

Glazing refers to the use of either glass or plexiglass as a practical barrier between your art and the atmosphere in which it is hung. This is necessary because of moisture, smoke, acidic fumes and a host of threatening conditions artwork often faces. Typically, we recommend the use of plexiglass over glass, as it is clear and visually indistinguishable from glass, yet will not break and pose a threat to your safety or that of your artwork. Museum quality UV-filtering plexiglass and glass are available and recommended for valuable artwork on paper and color photography to protect them over time from the color-fading UV-rays. These products also offer anti-reflective and anti-static properties.

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