“In the 1430s, around the same time Johannes Gutenberg was creating a revolution by developing the first printing press, engraving techniques began to appear in both Italy and Germany. The technique they used is called intaglio, an Italian word that literally means ‘carving’ –a process that involves incising or carving by hand, dots, dashes, hatches, lines, and shapes into the surface of metal plates to form images including letters.”
Engraving has been the first choice of graphic processes for professionals for centuries, combining tactile interest with rich opaque colors, reproducing fine lines and solids with stunning clarity and ensuring faithfulness to a designer’s intentions. This technique affords a great degree of flexibility when printing, and realizing tactile textures in a sensory-filled, memorable way.
Beautiful swirls, colorful lines, fine, uncoated paper and the feeling of raised print under your fingertips. These are the experiences you can expect when handling pages that have been engraved in Design to Touch, Engraving: History, Process, Concepts and Creativity, a new book written by Rose Gonnella, Executive Director of the Robert Busch School of Design at Kean University.
Since 1911, the International Engraved Graphics Association has existed to support engravers working professionally. This organization hosts events and supports the education of engraving as a profession and as a printing technique. In conjunction with the IEGA, author, designer, illustrator-artist, and educator Rose Gonnella has co-authored this educational book about engraving, featuring renowned designer contributions and examples of real world process and techniques.
Design To Touch was designed for educators, however, it is far more than an educational textbook. It’s also a beautifully executed showcase of the history of the engraving process. Over two dozen pages are exquisitely engraved, featuring work from notable artists including Jessica Hische, Stefan Sagmeister, Louise Fili, and Steve Sandstrom and many of the beautiful engravings are stunningly represented on Mohawk paper.
The book highlights process. To engrave a piece, an engraver will create designs by cutting or etching fine lines into metal plates, called “dies”. Historically, these lines were hand cut, causing engraving to be labor intensive. Since then, new technologies and techniques have used photo-etching and other high speed techniques that have enabled these processes to become much more timely and affordable.
Rose advises that since the pages are so beautiful, “you may be tempted to remove the thirty engraved pages from the book, have them framed and hang them on a wall in your studio or living room…Don’t tear out the pages! Recommended instead, keep Design to Touch all together as a single cohesive resource. While turning the pages enjoy it for the pure aesthetic pleasure of the design artistry found in the engravings and for the book as a whole.”
Whether you pick the book up to learn more about engraving, to use as an educational textbook, or to see the beautiful detail work by current artists, you will surely learn how to effectively create “design to touch.”
Design to Touch is currently available on designtotouch.com and through Amazon. Or, comment below to tell us if you’ve used engraving techniques on any of your projects, and you could win one of three copies of Design to Touch for yourself! Contest end on 4/9 at 3pm EST.