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Centro di documentazione delle arti grafiche “Grifani-Donati” 1799

Calcography printing is distinguishable from other printing techniques for the dry relief that the matrix itself produces in copper metal or zinc during the printing phase, and also for the ink embossing on the surface of the paper. According to the historian and artist Giorgio Vasari this technique was created around the middle of the fifteenth century in Florence by the goldsmith Maso Finiguerra, a collaborator of Ghiberti.

Depending on the technique with which the blueprint is made we have: a burin, if the metal plate is directly engraved, an etching or a dry tip, if you indirectly use acids. In this second case, the metal plate is covered in advance with a layer of wax, onto which the artist draws by scratching the layer of wax and the plate undergoes an acid etching process, meaning it is immersed in the acid which will corrode the uncovered parts, going to a depth more or less in accordance with the intensity of the imprint.

Once engraved, the plate is inked and then cleaned again, until the ink remains only in the previously engraved recesses, following which it is positioned on the calcography printing press to be printed.