About "21"

The 2012 original print by Bill Ritchie

No. 21 from James Joyce "Chamber Music" by Bill Ritchie. The original idea came from Scott Lawrimore, Deputy Director at the Frye Art Museum, who invited 36 artists to create artworks based on James Joyce' poem book, "Chamber Music."

How I made the print

On the Web I selected an image of James Joyce, a 1915 photo by Alex Ehrenzweig, shown below.

I selected number 21 of "Chamber Music," to paste below the Ehrenzweig photo. To learn "WHY" I chose Number 21, click here.

I plan an ArtistStamp, so I made faux perforations with Adobe Illustrator, then enclosed the image and the poem within the perfs as you see below:

My photo etching process requires a negative for intaglio printing, so I inverted the image and printed it with a laser printer on silicon transfer paper, showing below.

My process works on copper, so, below, I bevel a copper plate, polish and degrease it with whiting and vinegar, then dry. Then it's ready for the transfer.

Below, the laser print on silicon paper lays on the copper and the two go through a laminator, melting the laser toner, releasing it from the paper and bonding to the copper.

Laser toner is similar to etching grounds, resistent to etchant solutions; therefore, the copper remaining exposed can be etched, and I do this with ferric choride solution, below.

Several etching sessions later, the plate has an etched texture. Now the resist is dissolved, and the plate is ready to prove. The print-ready plate is shown below.

An intaglio printing starts with putting thick ink all over the plate, below, left, and then the surface is wiped all over - below, right, leaving ink in the areas which are etched.

The usual manner of printing intaglio is on an etching press, with paper that has been softened by soaking it in water and blotted. The press has soft blankets to emboss the ink into the paper, as you see on the left, below. The press wheel is then turned to print.

The proof complete, below, left. This proof is called a "trial proof." This stage is for making only the top part of the print, "21." The plate is set aside until the bottom part of the plate is ready, which is a digital print.

The lower part of the image is a fake envelope (called a "cover") with the artistamp based on the etching and images from philatelic Websites. The envelope image is digital and printed in color laser. To include the digital print in the intaglio printing session I use a laminating process known as "chine colle."

I wrote Joyce's poem on the envelope as if he were sending it to Nora from Ypres. You may notice it has a QR code stamp on it, too, which, with the right APP will take you to this Web page.

Chine colle is used in both the main image (the plate in the trial proof) and as a way to include the digital print of the cover. The main image of Joyce and the poem is printed on white paper chine-colle'd to the carrier paper, Arches black paper, a French paper.

The press I used for this process was sold before I could make snapshots for this page.

In all, it is a complicated process, and each of the proofs I made for the exhibition took about 30 minutes to print.

At the time of this writing, no edition has been made as I am interested mostly in making the plate or plates and taking a few proofs. If anyone is interested in owning a signed, limited edition hand-printed intaglio print or giclee reproduction I would be happy to discuss terms.

Prompt me! Ask a question: email bill@ritchie-art.com

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Email: ritchie@seanet.com