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Home > Resources > Glossary > Definitions - I > Intaglio


Any printmaking technique in which lines and areas to be inked and transferred to paper are recessed below the surface of the printing plate. Etching, engraving, drypoint, and aquatint are all intaglio processes. The collective term for several graphic processes in which prints are made from ink trapped in the grooves in an incised metal plate. Etchings and engravings are the most typical examples. It may also refer to imagery incised on gems or hardstones, seals, and dies for coins, or to an object decorated in this way; which when pressed or stamped into a soft substance, produces a positive relief in that substance. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, or mezzotint. Collographs may also be printed as intaglio plates. To print an intaglio plate, the surface is covered in ink, and then rubbed vigorously with tarlatan cloth or newspaper to remove the ink from the surface, leaving it only in the incisions. A damp piece of paper is placed on top, and the plate and paper are run through a printing press that, through pressure, transfers the ink from the recesses of the plate to the paper.


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