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INSTG012 Historical Bibliography Print Techniques Workshop at the UCL Art Museum by Nikki Gregory

AnneWelsh28 November 2014

ArtMuseumFollowing Simone’s post about our class visit to St Bride’s Printing Library, I thought I would share our experience learning about different print techniques using materials from the UCL Art Museum

The practical session on the methods of printing led by Curatorial Assistant and print artist J. Yuen Ling Chiu (@yuenlingchiu) was an hour’s worth of hands on experience with printed pictures. Have you ever looked at a print and wondered how it was made? Well wonder no further with this module session.

We started by each choosing a printers tool which was used to make one or more of the printed images displayed around the room. After a few minutes of studying the images, we were asked to guess which tools were used to make each of the prints. Firstly we looked at some woodcut prints, made with a ‘u’ tool, which is used by scraping lines in the wood. This imprints very defined straight lines which are tapered at the ends where the tool enters and leaves the wood. The ink is then rolled onto the remaining sections of wood to create the print. This is known as relief printing. We also looked at copper engraving and etching (in which acid is used to cut into the metal).

One of the forms of etching I found most interesting was the aquatint, where a cloud of blue dust is thrown into the air and left to settle onto a piece of copper sheet. Wax is then placed on certain sections, before the sheet is dipped into acid which burns through the dust to leave white flecks on the print. The print is then built up with layers of wax and acid to for the picture.

Another interesting technique is mezatint, where the surface starts very black, and layers of white are created on top using a tool which had grooves running along the edge, ending in little teeth. These teeth were used to ‘smoosh’ (technical word!) the dots together by rocking the tool from side to side.

After this quick induction we were set loose on a new set of prints, discussing which method of printing was used to create each print. On the whole I like to think we got more than half of them right between us.

If this doesn’t convince you that Historical Bibliography is a good optional module to choose, then the seminars on collation and quasi-facsimiles will top the balance! I am looking forward to the remaining seminars that this module has to offer.

Editorial Note: UCL Art Museum is closed for refurbishment until April 2015, but its programme of teaching and public engagement is continuing off-site. We are very grateful to J. Yuen Ling Chiu and Dr Andrea Fredericksen (UCL Art Museum Curator) for delivering this regular session for INSTG012 in the Haldane Room this year. You can find details of the Museum’s ongoing programme of events on its website. Staff also contribute to @UCLMuseums on twitter, UCL Museums and Collections facebook page, and the Museums & Collections playlist on UCLTV on YouTube. — Anne Welsh, INSTG012 Historical Bibliography Module Coordinator.

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Nikki Gregory (@NikkiG434) is a full-time student on the MA Library and Information Studies.

Image: Anne Welsh.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Apart from the editorial note, Nikki Gregory is the sole author of this piece.

INSTG012 Historical Bibliography Visit to St Bride’s Printing Library by Simone Charles

AnneWelsh14 November 2014

Simone printing

On Monday 13th October, 2014 as part of our Historical Bibliography module, half of the class visited St. Bride’s Printing Library on Fleet Street, while the other half visited the British Library. As I was part of the group that visited St. Bride’s, I felt compelled to write about the experience there as it clearly impacted on the learning objectives of the course.

St. Bride’s Library, which opened its doors to the public as a printing school in 1895, is part of the St. Bride Foundation. On arrival we were met by our facilitators, Bob and Mick, who both had no hesitation in describing and demonstrating some of the collections. We were shown excerpts of the Catnach, Kindersley as well as the Gill Collections, all of which were unique in their own right.

Of particular interest to me was the Catnach Collection as his broadsides are forerunners of tabloids in the United Kingdom. From the plain and simple to the gory, this collection is quite remarkable and is well preserved along with the other collections.

Despite this wealth of materials, the aspect of the visit that peaked our interest the most was that of the printing press room. This room which could most certainly also be described as a small museum, has working original models of hand presses used between the 18th and 19th centuries. These include the Columbian Press (1822), the Albion Press (1828), and the Stanhope Press (1830). The Library is also home to an immaculate wooden Compositor’s Box from Oxford University Press.

Additionally, we were shown some wood engraving techniques whereby blocks of wood were engraved with various illustrations, placed between text and hand pressed during the Victorian era. Our visit then closed with each of us hand pressing selected designs given to us by Rob and Mick.

Having read and researched 19th century newspapers from Trinidad and Tobago over time, I never actually thought of the actual process that went into printing. This visit to St. Brides was truly an enlightening one and can serve to be a true asset to anyone wishing to delve into the field of Rare Books and Special Collections Librarianship or to become knowledgeable in the history of the printing press on a whole. For further information on the library please visit http://www.sbf.org.uk/library or follow them on twitter (@stbridelibrary) or facebook.

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Simone Charles (@libraryesque) is studying for her MA LIS, specialising in Bibliography, Book History and Cataloguing.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Simone Charles is the sole author of this piece.

Digital Humanities Summer Institute

AnneWelsh12 June 2011

Research student Claire Ross has spent the last week at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in Victoria. As part of her Digital Fundamentals course, she has been digitizing images of title pages for us to use in teaching Historical Bibliography. You can read about the techniques she tried out – photography and flatbed scanning – on her blog, Digital Nerdosaurus.

Image: by Dr Melissa Terras for UCL Centre for Digital Humanities.

Visit to the Bodleian Bibliography Room

AnneWelsh16 March 2011

Slideshow of images and comments by students who attended last week’s visit to the Bibliography Room.

This was an optional field trip for the MA LIS, MA ARM and MA RAMI students who took Historical Bibliography (INSTG012) this year. From September 2011, it will be an option for the new MA Digital Humanities.

There is a full, reflective post on the UCLDH blog.