Lesson #5: Creating an Edition of Prints

Part of the unit: Creating an Animal Print |


How can we create an edition of prints?
Students will be able to:
Create an edition of prints from a single plate.
Students will understand that artists:
Create multiple prints from a single plate.
Experiment with art media.
Water-based printing ink (dark colors), smooth slabs or styrofoam trays to charge brayers on, 12 x 18 paper (light colors: ivory, white, grey), black and white pencils for signing editions, students' foam plates, 4" soft rubber brayers, newspapers, markers.
A reproduction of a numbered and signed print from an edition
Address issues that arose during the previous lessons (under-inking, over-inking, shallow engravings, registration problems...) and elicit possible solutions to these problems.  If necessary, repeat the printing demonstration from lesson 4.
  • Is every print from your plate just like the others?  How might they be different?
  • How many prints do you think you could pull from this foam plate before it flattens out?
  • How long do you think a wooden plate would last? 
Explain that even a wooden plate, like Durer's Rhinoceros, would eventually wear out and lose quality. Explain that artists often create an edition of prints pulled from the same plate.  Display a numbered print from an edition.  Ask students to identify the artist's signature in the lower, right-hand corner. Point to the numbers in the lower-left corner and ask students to speculate as to what they signify. Explain that the first number refers to whether the print was the first one pulled or the second, or the 55th. Next to it is the total number of prints pulled from that particular plate.  Invite students to speculate as to the value of prints.
  • Which might be more valuable...the first print pulled or the last?
  • OIf you see 31/100 on a print, what does that tell you?  What about 1/5?  Which might be more valuable?  Why?
Explain that when students are finished pulling their edition of prints today, they will be numbering, dating and signing them in pencil.  Demonstrate how to do that on a test print.
Students will pull additonal prints from their plates using dark ink on light colored paper stock.  Students will sign, date and number their prints.
Display several finished works.
  • How does the color of the paper affect the way the way the print looks?
  • Which version of your prints do you prefer... the ones on dark colored paper or the ones on light colored paper? Why?
  • Find a print in which the artist created different areas of visual texture. How many different areas do you see?
  • Find a print in which the environment is especially distinct from the animal? How did the artist achieve this?