THE RHINOCEROS: KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN

Notes and updates on the progress of a campaign to create a monumental copperplate engraving of an African Black Rhinoceros.  The campaign will launch on September 5; to preview the campaign page, please click here.

WHAT IS ENGRAVING?  Often confused with etching, which is a chemical process, engraving is the art of incising lines and textures into a resistant surface with a metal tool.  In printmaking, copper is the preferred surface and the steel burin is the tool most often used, in a variety of sizes and profiles.  The resistant quality of the copper allows for the cutting of extremely controlled, fine lines.  Copperplate engraving was the medium of choice for religious prints and later scientific illustration because of its ability to deliver enormous detail and dynamic range within a very small image area.

The word "engraving" in this case refers to the printed impressions which are made from the copper engraving itself.  Ink is applied to the plate and then the surface of the plate is wiped clean, leaving ink in the engraved lines only.  A roller press is then used to transfer the ink onto a damp piece of paper.  A well-cut plate can produce hundreds of impressions, but will gradually break down and lose its clarity.

I began studying printmaking at the age of 13 and took up engraving at the encouragement of Prof. Paul Arnold at Oberlin College in 1979.  The first two printmaking tools I ever owned, a scraper and burnisher, appear in the image below.

Assorted tools

PRINTING:  The prints offered as premiums in this campaign will be printed by Joeun Aatchim at Robert Blackburn Studio in Manhattan.  In additional to being a talented printer, Joeun is a multi-media artist whose work can be seen at http://www.joeun-aatchim.com.

Joeun Aatchim and David Barthold at Robert Blackburn Studio.

Joeun Aatchim and David Barthold at Robert Blackburn Studio.

Work on the plate begins with a tracing taken of the original drawing.  Only the dominant "key" lines are traced; the remainder will be drawn in by sight.

Work on the plate begins with a tracing taken of the original drawing.  Only the dominant "key" lines are traced; the remainder will be drawn in by sight.

Transferring the drawing onto a pressure-sensitive coating on the plate.

Transferring the drawing onto a pressure-sensitive coating on the plate.