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.
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.