about…

about the artist

Heather Page shooting a fungus on a hike to Pear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Heather Page photographing a fungus on the Pear Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Image by Tam Noirot.
Heather Page is a multi-media artist, collaborative printmaker, and educator from the Rocky Mountain foothills in Colorado.
 
Ms. Page works in and teaches a wide array of media, including book arts, drawing, installation art, mixed-media, painting, printmaking, and weaving.
 
An avid hiker, Ms. Page finds the source material for much of her work in the foothills and mountains close to her home. She is particularly drawn to flora like lichens, fungi, and weeds for their lacy, calligraphic, and repetitive structures as well as their roles in rejuvenating and reshaping nature.
 
Ms. Page has an M.F.A. in printmaking from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, a Tamarind Professional Printer Certificate from the Tamarind Institute of Lithography in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a B.F.A. in printmaking and painting from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has also worked in print studios in Canada and France.
 
For more information about Heather Page, please view her résumé.

about prints

We make prints by transferring a substance (ink, paint, pencil…) from one surface to another. Think of a thumbprint. You push your thumb on an ink pad, then press it on a piece of paper. That’s a relief print!

There are four main ways in which we transfer ink: intaglio, lithography, relief, and stencils, which I describe in the Print Processes section below.
 
Most prints start with an image or text that we carve, draw, paint, or transfer onto a plate, stone, or screen (the print matrix).
 
To make a print, we…

  1. Ink the matrix
  2. Align the printing paper (or fabric, or fur, etc.) to the matrix
  3. Press the matrix and paper together by hand or with a press. This transfers the ink to the paper.

 
Each kind of printmaking can make more than one print. Some processes create just a few good prints before the matrix degrades. Some can be used to print hundreds of prints. So, the number of prints in an edition (group of prints) depends on which processes and presses the printer uses as well as how many prints the artist wants to make.
 
What we printmakers want you to know is that we make artistic decisions at every step of the printing process. That’s why we call our prints “original prints” or “handmade prints” in an effort to distinguish our work from “limited edition prints”, which are reproductions of artworks, usually made in other medias. How can you tell which is which? Ask for the print documentation. Or just start talking with the artist about the processes involved.
 
Here’s an introductory video about printmaking: What is a Print? by MOMA
Here’s a site that describes some basics about printmaking: International Fine Print Dealers Association Basics
And here’s a site that discusses original prints vs limited edition prints, as well as different print processes: Bill Wheeler’s Studio 1617 – What is an Original Print?

It takes me about seven steps to make a print once I’ve settled on an image, which I describe more fully on my about prints page:

  1. Color Separation
  2. Make a Key Block
  3. Proof
  4. Make the Color Plates
  5. Color Trial Proof
  6. Edition
  7. Curate
As I mentioned above, there are all sorts of ways we can make prints, but they generally boil down to four ways to transfer the ink: intaglio, lithography, relief printing, and stencils. Monoprints and monotypes are another kind of printmaking that use one or more of the other four processes to transfer ink, paint, etc.
 
Beeline 1 by Heather Page, etching, wood engraving, and drawing on mulberry, 12 inches x 12 inches

intaglio

We make intaglio prints from textured plates that we have wiped with ink–meaning that we’ve pushed the ink into the plate’s crevices and wiped its surface clean.
 
To print the plate, we place it on an etching press and align a piece of softened paper (paper that’s been soaked in water and blotted) on top. We place backing papers and a set of wool blankets on top of the paper and crank the pile through the press. The press pushes the blankets and the softened paper down into the printing plate, transferring the ink and the texture of the plate to the paper, making a mirror image of the plate.
 
Aquatints, collagraphs, drypoints, engravings, etchings, mezzotints, and even relief blocks can be printed in intaglio. Beeline, above, is printed from three etched steel plates and one engraved wood block.
 
Here’s a video of Alfons Bytautas of Edinburgh Printmakers, Scotland demonstrating different types of intaglio platemaking methods as well as how a print is made: Etching at Edinburgh Printmakers

Madrid by Heather Page, lithograph on paper, 15 inches x 11.25 inches

lithography

We make lithographs from stones, grained metal plates, and polyester plates.
 
Lithography is a chemical process that happens on the surface of the stone or plate (the matrix). We use water-repellant materials like greasy crayons to create the image and then treat the rest of the matrix with cellulose gums and acids to make the non-image areas attract water.
 
To ink a lithograph, we moisten the surface of the stone or plate with a sponge and then roll over it with a greasy ink. The ink sticks to the image, but is repelled from the rest of the matrix.
 
To make a print, we place the stone or plate on a lithographic press and align a piece of paper to it. We then place backing paper and a plastic sheet called a tympan on top, spread some grease on the tympan to make it slide, and crank the pile through the press. The pressure transfers the ink to the paper, making a physically flat mirror image of the matrix.
 
Madrid, above, is a five plate lithograph made from photographic and hand-drawn metal plates.
 
Here’s a video of Phil Sanders of Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in New York, New York discussing the lithographic process: Pressure + Ink: Lithography Process

Women's Work by Heather Page, wood relief print and silk screen on pink gingham, 15 inches x 15 inches

relief printing

Relief printing is printing the surface of an object, so pretty much anything can be a relief plate. We can print objects, flat cut-out shapes, as well as printing plates that we’ve carved, collaged, etched, etc.
 
To ink a relief plate, we can roll ink over the surface, paint ink on the surface, or push the plate into the ink.
 
Relief prints don’t tend to need as much pressure as intaglio and lithographic prints to transfer the ink. We can print them by hand, on etching presses, lithographic press, and letterpresses. And we can print them face up or down. When the printing paper is under the block, the print tends to have less texture to it. When the paper is on top of the block, much of the plate’s texture can transfer to the paper, along with the ink.
 
Women’s Work, above, was printed by hand on pink gingham from one woodburned and carved wood block, two silk screens, and a nicely scarred worktable.
 
Here’s a video on relief printing by Phil Sanders of Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in New York, New York: Pressure + Ink: Relief Process

Tectonic by Heather Page, silk screen and pochoir on paper, 15 inches x 15 inches

stencils

A stencil is something that blocks ink from reaching the thing we’re printing on–paper, fabric, a wall…
 
Stencils can stand alone, such as a design cut into a sheet of plastic, or be affixed to a mesh, like a silk screen or Japanese stencil, to allow for greater detail in the image.

We can print stand-alone stencils in a few of different ways:

  • As a pochoir print
    • A pochoir print uses a stencil with the design cut out of it. We place the stencil directly on the thing we’re printing and brush, roll, spray, spatter, and/or sponge ink or paint through the stencil’s holes. The resulting print faces the same way as the stencil and carries the texture of the printing surface as well as the paint application method we use.
    • Tectonic, above, is a nine color print made from eight silk screens and one pochoir stencil.
    • Here’s a website from a pochoir exhibition at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library that goes into the particulars of the process: Vibrant Visions: Pochoir Prints in the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Library
  • As a transfer
    • By transfer, I mean that we apply paint, ink, etc. to the stencil itself, place it either on a printing plate or on the thing we’re printing, and then apply pressure to transfer the image to the printing surface. The resulting image is a mirror image of the stencil and can have a little texture, depending on the materials we use.
    • This is technically a relief print method, but we still call them stencils because we usually use cut-out shapes as our plates, and those shapes can be used to block ink AND print a shape at the same time.
  • As a blockout
    • In this case, we use a cut-out shape to prevent ink from reaching the printing paper. We can use this kind of stencil while printing any of the other print processes. Blocking stencils can also be made of materials that don’t totally block the passage of ink, like a loose-woven fabric, so that a pattern transfers to the printing paper in the shape of the stencil.
  • Here’s a video on transfer and blockout stencil printing in action: Pochoir printmaking tutorial, Mesa Arts Center, with David Manje

 
Daily Dose by Heather Page. Silk screen on vellum, 24 inches x 18 inchesSilk screen stencils can be more intricate than stand-alone stencils because the mesh of the screen holds the image together. Stencils can be cut out of paper and then stuck to a screen, hand-drawn or painted directly on a screen, or exposed on a screen using a photosensitive emulsion.
 
To print a silk screen, we usually start by fastening it to a printing table. Sometimes we use hinges and sometimes the screen fits into brackets on the table. We lift the screen and align our printing paper (or fabric, etc.) face-up underneath it. We also coat the screen with ink using a squeegee while the screen is up. This is called flooding the screen. We then lower the screen onto the paper and squeegee ink through the mesh with a little force. The ink squeezes through any part of the mesh that’s left uncovered, transferring a flat image onto the paper that faces the same way as the screen.
 
Daily Dose, above, is an eleven color silk screen print on vellum.
 
Here’s a video of Jimmy Nguyen making a silk screen at Supergraphic Studio in Durham, North Carolina: Screen Printing Basics

XII/Twelve by Heather Page, monotype on paper, 11 5/8 inches x 11 inches

monoprints / monotypes

Monotypes and monoprints are unique prints that can be made using any of the above ink transfer techniques.
 
We make monotypes by drawing or painting on one surface (usually something non-porous like a blank printing plate or a piece of mylar) and then transferring the artwork to another surface with pressure.
 
XII/Twelve, to the left, is a monotype that started as a water soluble crayon drawing of fall leaves on Plexiglas. I printed multiple layers of thin ink washes on top of the transferred drawing and finished the piece with some drawing on top.
 
Here’s a video on monotype printing with Susan Rostow: Monotype Printing with Akua Inks
 
L'Électrisation du Nuage by Heather Page, woodburning, collage, silk screen, and relief print on silver-gilded paper on panel, 11 13/16 inches x 11 13/16 inches x 2 inchesWe make monoprints by using a printing matrix with an image in or on it somewhere in the layers of the print.
 
L’Électrisation du Nuage, to the left, is a monoprint that began as a fragment of a silver-gilded relief print glued to a wood panel. I silk screened lichens in a variety of reds over the relief print and collaged digital prints of lichens on top. I then woodburned the digital print designs into the panel and finished with a little drawing and painting.
 
Here’s a video of the making of a series of Claerwen James monoprints at the Print Studio in Cambridge, England: Claerwen James Monoprint Screenprints at The Print Studio

An edition is a group of identical or nearly identical prints pulled from the same plates printed in the same sequence.
One set of printing plates may be used to print more than one kind of edition, which should be noted in the documentation that comes with a print. Likewise, the type and number of proofs made from the plates should be noted on the print documentation. Why is this important? It affects the price of the print. Less prints = a higher price.
 
There are different types of editions: standard, split, and varied, which I describe on my about prints page.
Proofs are prints outside of the edition. Sometimes they look like the edition, sometimes not. It depends on the proof.

  • Working proofs, trial proofs, and color trial proofs are made before we start editioning to figure out a print’s design or color palette
  • State proofs are mini-editions made before the plates are finished
  • Bon à Tirers (BAT), Artist Proofs (AP), Printers Proofs (PP), and Publications Proofs (HC) are all made with the edition, but are set aside as a printing standard (BAT), as payment to the artist (AP) or printers (PP), or as examples for marketing (HC)
More on proofs…