Teachers Lesson Plans

An introduction to the prints of Albrecht Dürer

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A woodcut print, for example The Holy Family with Three Hares, is a form of relief printing, where the image is produced by transferring ink from a raised surface to paper. The drawing is first traced onto the surface of a woodblock. Gouges, knives and chisels are used to cut away non-printing areas, leaving the image as the only remaining part of the block surface. A characteristic of woodcuts is the line left, raised, at the perimeter of the block. This border provides structural support during the inking and printing process. It also prevents the inking roller from touching the recessed surface of the block. Once the cutting is complete, stiff ink is rolled onto the block. Paper is dampened and pressed onto the inked block. After the paper is peeled off the block and the image is revealed, the printing process can begin again.

Engraving is an intaglio (Intaglio is Italian for incising or engraving) printing process. Coat of Arms with a Lion and a Cock is an example of an engraving. In an engraving ink is transferred from recessed grooves in a printing plate onto paper through the application of pressure. First the design is incised into a metal plate with engraving tools; this creates the recessed grooves. Once the design is completed, ink is rolled onto the metal plate. The plate is then wiped with cloths to remove ink from the surface. This wiping also pushes the ink into the recessed grooves, which make up the design. Dampened paper is placed on the plate's surface. The plate and paper are then passed through a printing press. Strong pressure created in the press forces the ink held in the grooves to transfer onto the paper. After the paper is peeled off the plate and the image is revealed, the printing process can begin again.