Engraving and Printing in Greece

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Engraving and Printing in Greece

Engraving and printing, like painting, are arts that begins with a design. Their main characteristic is that this design is transferred onto another surface many times. In this way the design can be reproduced and other identical, original and genuine works can be created using the original.

The term engraving refers to the process by which an original pattern is cut into a wood, copper, stone or zinc plate with a technique that allows it to be transferred onto paper many times.  In engraving the artist himself makes the design, cuts it into the plate, prints it and signs a limited number of copies.

There are five main categories of engraving and printing techniques.

  1. Reliefs. Includes woodcuts and linocuts. An important element of this technique is that the protruding surfaces of the relief are printed, and the recessed areas which are not filled, either with black or colours, remain blank.
  2. Intaglio. This category includes engravings on copper, tin or steel. An important element is that the black or colours which are used in the engraving are placed in the recessed areas which are made by the artist cutting the material with various tools or with acids or other chemical agents.
  3. Planographic. Includes techniques for lithography on stone, zinc and aluminium using the offset method of printing. In this case the design itself which is made on a flat surface is used to make the print rather than the raised area (as in the first category) or the recessed areas (as in the second category).
  4. Porous. This category includes screen printing, where the ink by, hand or by photochemical processes, is passed through a silk, wool, nylon or metal gauze to reach the paper.
  5. Monotyping. In monotyping, one copy of a design is painted in ink or oil paints on metal plate or on glass and is printed onto paper.

Today, photography, plastic, plexiglass, gels, various cardboards covered with plaster and photocopying materials are used in printing, and ink can be replaced by cut plates and large, three-dimensional prints can be made.  Mixed techniques are applied.

In screen printing, works can be originals or reproductions. This technique is used to reproduce paintings (both old and new).

Engraving on clay first appeared around the 3rd millennium BC. Various designs were etched into hard materials and then transferred to the wet clay by rollers.

Printing has been known in Greece since the 17th century, as can be seen by the original prints and copies of paintings that were to be found in various areas. Most Greek painters and some sculptors have worked with printing as an extension of their art, their work and their achievements. Their involvement in printing not only allows them to make original works but also prints of their paintings or sculptures and thus this art enables them to reach a larger audience.