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23 December 2005 @ 05:10 pm
Vitreography  

Vitreograph: A print whose matrix is common float glass instead of the traditional metal, wood or stone. Pioneered in modern printmaking by glass artist Harvey K. Littleton in 1974, vitreography has been the focus of creative and technical efforts at Littleton Studios in Spruce Pine, North Carolina since 1981.
Two different processes are used to make vitreographs. One is an intaglio method in which areas of tone are created using washes of acid or by selectively blasting the plate with sand. Lines are drawn into the glass using a variety of hand and electric engraving tools. The inked image is transferred from glass plate to paper in an etching press. The second method is called waterless lithography or siligraphy. In it, an image is drawn onto the ground glass matrix with water-soluble art materials. Processing the plate involves protecting the non-printing areas of the image with a thin mask of cured silicone; open areas (those free of silicone) accept ink applied with a roller. These images are also transferred to paper in an etching press.

More information can be found at The Littleton Collection section on vitreography. And I was able to get some copies of some explanatory materials, so I may well have more to add later.

As you might have guessed, we went back to the Philabaum workshop/gallery today. As we pulled in, I noticed that Tom Philabaum was out back cleaning some equipment, so I took the opportunity to ask him a bunch more questions about the vitreographic process, since we were actually quite interested and had missed a bit of his explanation the other day (and since I knew friend bibliofile was interested as well). He reacted pretty much the way many of us do when somebody displays a real interest in something we love to do—he was happy to take us up to the non-public workroom and show us his snapshots from his visit to The Littleton Studios and explain the whole process so we'd understand it. What a lovely man!

And … uh … we decided we really didn't have anything better to do with that money, so we bought the print I'd loved so much the other day (and, on further review, love bunches more. It's 2/20 of Dan Welden "Infusion" 1998; 16.5 x 22.25 inch image on a 21 x 27 inch sheet; numbered and signed by the artist; and bearing the chop of the publisher, Littleton Studios, and the master printer, Judith O'Rourke). In addition, I decided we must own one of Tom's vases that Susan had loved since she first saw it last year and wasn't willing to actually buy, 'cause she's like that about beautiful but expensive stuff. Me, I reckon it's good to surround ourselves with beautiful things that we love and appreciate, even though it means we may be a bit short on money from time to time. Heck, you really can't take it with you…

Once again I'll say more later, youbetcha.

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BritHistorianbrithistorian on December 23rd, 2005 11:30 pm (UTC)
It was interesting to see the Dan Welden pictures at the Littleton Collection website, although I'm sure much detail gets lost in screen size pictures, and they didn't have a picture of the print you bought. I'd never heard of vitreography until reading your post, but it really seems like an interesting process. Of the prints featured on the website, I particularly liked the "Glass Canyon" series, "Assimilation", and "Preponderate."
A monstrous ramblingbibliofile on December 24th, 2005 03:43 am (UTC)
Those prints are interesting. I wish I could see the paper (and the plates, too, what the heck). The vases look very nice.

After your other post, I Google'd up this page, which deals with making plates from a light-sensitive material (as opposed to printing straight from the glass). It seems that glass can be used for intaglio AND/OR litho type techniques, which is pretty darn cool.
Fred A Levy Haskell: eyes of the Fredcritterfredcritter on December 24th, 2005 11:17 pm (UTC)

Can't help with the plates but next time you're in Minneapolis you're welcome to come over and see the paper [at least the sheet we have (if you don't mind that there's ink all over it)].