Mike Lyon is an accomplished artist and printmaker with expertise in Japanese moku hanga woodcut printmaking. He is also an engineer and the technique of cutting his woodblocks has progressed from hand carving to using a Shopbot CNC router to mechanically cut his large blocks. Lyon has taken this experimental approach to the intaglio techniques of etching and mezzotint.
The mezzotint is an intaglio technique whereby a copper plate is roughened by a mezzotint rocker which imports tiny holes into the surface, and when printed, the plate prints a solid black. The artist uses a burnisher or scraper to smooth out the textured surface to varying degrees creating his design in half tones ie the mezzotint.
The copper plate for Sarah Reclining was “rocked” by a drypoint needle mounted in a shop of CNC (computer numerical control) router. At this juncture the burnishing of Sarah Reclining departs even further from the traditional hand burnishing of a mezzotint plate. Lyon attached a ball burnisher to his shopbot CNC router which was programmed to follow tool paths created by separating a photograph with a number of individual luminosity levels. The machine then burnished the plate from light to dark tones by impressing the burnisher into the surface of the plate as many times as necessary to distinguish the tonal range of the figure.
Nancy, an etching, was created in a similar, the copper plate was prepared with a ball hard ground and an etching needle was inserted into the CNC router which was programmed to follow tool paths as determined by the photo of Nancy. The plate was then etched in a bath of ferric chloride and printed in the traditional way.
A whole chapter of the book “Post Digital Printmaking” is dedicated to @mikelyonstudio
Impressions of Sarah Reclining and Nancy will be on view in the @anthonykirkeditions
booth at this week’s E/AB Fair @eabfair
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