This project, Myriads (Only By Dark) by Julie Mehretu, began in October 2012 and was finished editioning in February 2015. Throughout the process, I worked in close collaboration with the artist and Gemini G.E.L.'s master etcher. The combination of its massive scale for a single-sheet etching (7' high) and its sheer number of layers and colors for each print resulted in the most complex, involved and time-intensive print in Gemini's 50 year history.
Click images to zoom.
In these images, the prints are in an early stage of development.
The artist drew on frosted mylar, allowing her to see the under-girding of vector lines that make up the first layer of the print.
When she was satisfied with her drawing, we exposed it onto photo-sensitive copper plates, then developed, aquatinted and etched the plates in acid for different times, allowing for range of tones in the final print.
After completing etching, a process proof would be pulled. At this point, the artist would react to the colors chosen and make changes if needed. If not, she could respond to the new proof and draw on another layer of mylar placed on top of the proof. In this way, new layers were added to prints and the final work was reached. Three two-week sessions with artist were needed to get an "RTP" (Right To Print), a prototype that we match during editioning. The scale of this project requires at least 5 printers to ink the plates and run the press.
Left: In addition to etched images, the prints incorporate "spit-bite", a process where the artist painted acid onto the plates directly.
Right: A copper plate, inked up. Each of the 7' prints has 12-18 plates that need to be inked each printing session and in a typical day, we are able to pull 2 prints.
The Big Press. Fabricated in 2012 specifically for this project.
all works copyright Julie Mehretu and Gemini G.E.L.