I was sent a question through my ebay store Printocrats about the nature of mezzotint. I thought I’d post the whole dialogue here, because it explains a little, how a mezzotint is an original print and not a reproduction method:
Q: – hi
is this created from a picture ?
A: – Yes, I was looking at a photograph, while working on the plate. More information about mezzotint is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mezzotint I habitually take photographs of the landscapes and my children. Some of the images are later used in my work.
Q: – thanks for your answer. But I wanted to know if the mezzotint process actually used the picture or if you completely made the impression by hand just using the picture as a guide but never actually using the picture in the print process
A: – No, in this sense a mezzotint isn’t created from a picture. It is not a mechanised reproduction process. Artist works on the image manually, burnishing the lighter areas with a tool called burnisher, while the rest of the surface of the plate remains evenly serrated – “rocked”. Some artist prefer to rock the plate themselves as well. I use pre-rocked plates. The smoother the area burnished, the lighter it comes on the image, hence allowing artist complete control of the tone. It is a very long and laborious technique. To check the progress, artist has to take numerous proofs (ink the plate, wipe the residue, put on the table of the roller press, put damp paper on top, roll through the press – all done by hand!). One cannot judge the image’s fine details from only looking at the plate. I hope this is helpful, but do ask, if you have any further questions. I am more than happy to answer them all.