Who We Are

Somerset Printmakers was formed in 1998 by seventeen professional artists who live and work in Somerset.

We exist to:

  • Work together to organise opportunities for members to exhibit and sell their work.
  • Promote a better understanding of the craft of original printmaking in all its forms.
  • Through the network of our members support each others’ practice.

The nature of Somerset Printmakers has inevitably evolved over the years as the membership has changed and artistic practice has become increasingly cross-disciplinary. Some members are exclusively printmakers, others are artists in a variety of media but for whom printmaking is an important part of their practice.

The core aim of the group when exhibiting is to demonstrate and celebrate the diversity and complexity of what constitutes a print. Traditional methods as outlined on our About page remain the prime processes in the work of many of these artists. Skills in these areas of printmaking are for some the roots of more experimental work.


Is a print produced by the artist or in collaboration with the artist, it can be created using a variety of different techniques

Printmaking Techniques

Printmaking Techniques

An Original print

A print using any of the methods described below is an original print.

Intaglio Printing


Using either zinc or copper plates, the polished surface is covered with a thin layer of wax and then drawn into with a sharp point or needle exposing the metal surface. The plate is placed in acid and the exposed areas are etched. The depth and strength of line can be varied by blocking out areas and putting the plate into acid for different lengths of time. The etched plate is then covered with a viscous ink and wiped clean leaving the ink in the lines. It is then put through a cylinder press and printed onto damp paper. A great deal of pressure is required for this printing method, which gives etchings their characteristic embossed edges.


This is another method of producing etchings where the plate is covered with grains of dust that are burnt onto the surface, allowing the acid to etch between them, which produces a grainy effect. Areas of the plate are then blocked out successively with acid resist fluid, resulting in a wide range of tonal variations. Line etching and aquatints, and indeed other techniques for obtaining different effects, are often combined on one plate.


This is a direct way of engraving a line onto a metal or acrylic plate using a sharp needle and then printed in the same way as an etching.

Aluminium Etching

This is one of a range of recent approaches to etching, using acrylic varnishes and other less toxic materials and solvents. It is capable of producing a wide range of textures and marks that differ somewhat from the traditional etching methods described above.  As a technique it is still a ‘work in progress’ and offers interesting opportunities for experimentation.

Photo etching

In this process, a photo sensitive film is laminated onto the metal plate, an acetate with an image printed onto it is placed over the film and the whole is then placed in an exposure unit and exposed to ultra violet light. The film is developed, and can be etched and used either on its own or in conjunction with other etching techniques. Or if a ‘dot screen’ is used while the plate is being exposed, then a greater range of tones is possible, and the plate does not need any further etching. This method is known as Photogravure.

Relief Printing

Lino and Wood Cut

Using a piece of linoleum, lines are created with the use of different sized U and V shaped chisels. The lines removed will print white (or the colour of the paper they are printed onto) so the actual image will be created by a combination of the unmarked and the cut areas. To print, a printing ink is rolled onto the surface and the paper is placed on top of this and printed with either hand pressure or a screw down printing press. Several plates can be combined to create different colours. There is also a method called Reduction relief printing, where the plate is cut, printed in the number of prints required, then the same plate is cut again (further), printed in another colour onto the first prints, cut away again..and so on. This results in a print where the successive colours build up in many layers.


Mokuhanga is based on a traditional Japanese way of making woodcuts, but here the ink is water based and generally applied with a stiff brush. This is printed by hand, using a baren, which is a palm leaf stretched over a cardboard disc, or a wooden spoon. The best paper for these prints is thin, hand made paper from China, Japan or Korea, and the effect is often transparent and fluid. Another name for Mokuhanga is Ukiyoe, which means ‘Floating World’.


Since the almost total demise of non digital printing, artists have been experimenting with letterpress printing, and many letterpress collectives are springing up, using different metal typefaces and old wooden Victorian type, often combining these with other printmaking techniques. Specialist relief presses such as cylinder and platen presses are used for this, though they can also be printed by hand.

Silkscreen Printing

This is a ‘flat’ method of printmaking which does not require a printing press; instead a screen with a mesh stretched over it is used. Stencils or photographically engendered images (see photo etching) are applied to the screen, which is flooded with ink and then, using a squeegee (a wooden scraper with a rubber blade) this ink is forced through the parts of the mesh that are not stencilled out, onto a piece of paper below the screen.  Colours can be built up with successive printing applications. Mono screen Prints are made when the image is painted directly onto the screen and then a ‘background’ colour is forced through what remains of the mesh. Each of these will be different, which is why they are described as Monoprints.


Printmaking techniques which utilise different methods as described above 


An image is painted directly onto a plate that can be metal or glass. Paper is placed on the images, and metal plates can then be passed through the etching press. Images on glass are printed by hand using a baren or wooden spoon.


The etching press is used to print collagraphs; however, the surface of the plate (metal, cardboard or acrylic) is built up (instead of cut away as in etching) by gluing shapes and textures made of different materials onto it and also working with a brush or pointed tool. This is a process that individual artists develop themselves: anything goes as long as the plate holds together, doesn’t stick to the paper, and will go through the press.


Other useful printmaking terms


Limited edition

A limited edition is where a declared amount of prints are made and the artist guarantees that no further prints will be made. The prints made are numbered consecutively, so 1/20 will be the first print of an edition of 20, and 20/20 will be the last print. The artist often makes additional prints for his or her own benefit: these may be described as A/P (Artist’s proof), or P/P (Printer’s proof).  Sometimes, where the object of the print is not to be identical to the others (in colour, say, or maybe it has been worked on further), prints in an edition are described as ‘Version 1/20, Version 2/20 etc. If only one print is made, this can be described either as a Monoprint, or more accurately as a Unique Print – U/P.

Chine collé

This is when a separate piece of coloured paper is applied to the print during the printing process: it is simultaneously printed onto and glued down. This enables patches of colour to be applied to a print. Some artists apply metals such as gold leaf in this way. And sometimes the paper applied covers the whole plate. This lends a tone to the print that is different from the surrounding paper.


As  with Chine Collé, shapes can be stencilled onto a print , but in this case the print will have already been made. Unlike with chine collé, the shape applied will be on top of the image, not behind it.


The word ‘Intaglio’ comes from the Italian verb tagliare – to cut or carve. It applies to forms of printmaking where the image is what is below the surface of the plate or matrix.

Digital Print

Is an image that has been wholly created on a computer.  This can be printed digitally as a limited edition

What is NOT an original print

A reproduction of an existing artwork often described as a giclee print, is not an original print, even if it is a limited edition


Contact: Lisa Takahashi [email protected]