If you Google ‘prints with blind embossing’ it throws up a lot of information about commercial printing and ready made embossing patterns for card making and crafts. Rather than mass produced images I am interested in original artists prints with blind embossing in them, once your printmaking radar is tuned in, these artworks jump out at you from the background noise. There are wonderfully varied examples made by artists all around the world, here is a small selection to whet your appetite.
Combining blind embossing with inked areas
I have chosen images of work work which I find inspiring; I particularly like the examples where artists combine inking with blind embossing in the same print. There are some clever ones from Brenda Harthill where the uninked embossed areas create snow, clean washing and white walls.
Blind embossing is deceptively simple
Sometimes blind embossing feels like a poor relation to conventional coloured (or monochrome) printmaking, it is subtle and quiet, requiring the viewer to make a bit more effort. Blind embossed prints may appear simple, however this is deceptive as you will discover if you try making one. In everyday printmaking your print is a mirror image of the original plate, with blind embossing you need to think harder about the levels which are reversed as well; recessed areas on the plate will be sticking out in the print.
See Frances Kiernan’s website here
Printmaking meets sculpture
Blind embossing is where printmaking meets sculpture; the prints change with the light and angle of view. The audience is able to be more interactive, engaging with the prints through touch as well as vision, and physically moving around to see the work in different ways.
Rudolph Carl Gorman (July 26, 1931- November 3, 2005) was a Native American Artist of the Navajo Nation. Referred to as “the Picasso of American Indian art” by the New York Times, his painting are primarily of Native American women and characterized by fluid forms and vibrant colors, though he also worked in sculpture, ceramics, and stone lithography. He was also an avid lover of cuisine, authoring four cookbooks, (with accompanying drawings) called Nudes and Food.
Sedna and the Fulmar is one of forty signed, limited-editions by artist Ron King at Circle Press in collaboration with Scottish poet Richard Price. The artist’s book recreates the story of the young woman Sedna who, deceived by her lover and then father, is transformed to a sea goddess now central to Inuit cultural belief. Both artist and poet evoke the darkly violent tale in a series of subtle yet distinctive images accompanied by written verse. King has used the printmaking technique of blind embossing to create bold lines and shadows on folded sheets of handmade paper, completely white except for the pale blue letterpress of Price’s poetry. The words set a rhythm to the embossed Inuktitut script native to Canada, where the artist spent a few formative years of his career and first learned of the myth. Presented in a solid, square blue box with eagle motif, the three-dimensional nature of the book is accentuated further by layers of embossed images on textured paper, delicately weighted like snow.
See the whole book here
See information about Lesa Hepburn’s work here
An original blind embossing by artist Bill Worrell. This engraving is Worrell’s interpretation based on pictographic rock art done by the Native Americans of the Lower Pecos River around 3500 B.C.
See Bill Worrell’s website here
Allow yourself to be inspired
Putting this collection of examples together has filled my head with ideas for new prints, I hope it does the same for you. If you feel inspired to have a go yourself; see my post on blind embossing for instructions and ideas to get you started.
Many printmaking techniques create prints with blind embossing
The examples here show etching, collagraph and wood block as well as embossing directly from objects. I haven’t included any blind embossed lino prints but this is also very effective. More or less any firm textured surface that will go through the printing press can be embossed.
I hope the examples here inspire you to design prints without ink, and whether you make your own or discover good examples of other peoples’ prints please share them by leaving a comment with a link to a picture of the work. (Don’t forget to credit yourself or the artist)