There is nothing like a vacation abroad to open your eyes. Our trip to Copenhagen was no exception. The number of fine printmakers within that city rivals any other city in the world. Henrik Boergh recommended we visit here after giving us a grand tour of his studio a few miles away. Our conversation had not prepared me for the magnitude of this operation or the friendliness of the artisans running the place. It was all at once educational, joyful, and a great connection to the tradition we follow in fine, archival printmaking.
Here are some of the highlights.
We had the pleasure of visiting the Niels Borch Jensen studios in Copenhagen over Thanksgiving (2017)
Having to find the studio by bus in Copenhagen was a grand adventure that required some planning and assistance from the many kind people there.
One of the most jaw-dropping photogravure from polymer plate was just tacked to their entryway bulletin board at Niels Borch Jensen’s studio. Alas, the photogravure master had left for the day. Next time I will plan my visit better. I would love to learn from him directly more about how he did this!
Mitte gave me a fabulous tour and was most generous with her time and experience. She has been working at the studio as a professional fine printmaker since 1989!
We looked over a cross section of about 50 years of fine printmaking in the hour plus I visited the studio.
In Master Printer Niels Borch Jensen’s office! This Keith Haring piece was printed at the Copenhagen studio where I was visiting in the 1990s.
Mr. Jensen regularly sends his printmakers to art openings in America, Berlin, and all over the world. Mitte had just returned from an art opening in Atlanta. Thanks for a grand tour!
Cleaning up the intaglio editions website I came across an old file – not sure why it was on the website, but it reminded me of some techniques in intaglio I have yet to experiment with on the press. Granted these kinds of techniques could and probably should be simulated on the computer before going into the studio to save time, however there are occasions where what happens in the studio is a complete surprise and a gift that would never have occurred had one not ventured forward IRL (in real life) with curiosity and confidence.
So re-visit those old notebooks from time to time, as you might old friends.
Here’s what the old page of notes said:
My next plan is to try and do multiple plates – one for each of the tonal ranges
(shadow, midtones, highlights) and use complimentary colors for each of them.
– 02/22/04 – Create 3 plates:
- Get good black and white print first. Overall image must have rich blacks and nice, balanced tone.
- Last plate: Blacks only. Extract blacks from image and put it into it’s own plate. This will prevent ‘fuzzy’ look and will keep lines sharp.
- Middle and First plates – Midtone and Lighttone plates for use via a la poupee! Create two plates, on that contains the mid to preblack tones and another that ranges from highlights to midtones. — Try overlapping the mid areas on these two plates to prevent posterization, rather, color blending will occur in these areas…
- Inks of different viscosities will repel one another.
- Use a combination of translucent and concentrated inks, dob onto plate, then wipe by putting plate face down on stack of newsprint and firmly drag the plate in a particular direction. Do consistently for multiple wipings. Wipe in opposite direction in the same manner. Try rotating side to side too.
- Use magnesium carbonate to inks to make it stiffer and more viscous
- Use plate oil to make a ‘lean’, low-viscosity ink
- First plate – Lightest color
Only problem will be devising a process for coming up with somewhat accurate registration.
Instead of Q-tips or brushes or felt for a la poupee, use stiff brushes to deliver ink to plate.