Pressing Matters: The Art of Printing at Historic Deerfield
Through a combination of lecture and object study, this three-part course will examine the practice of printing on different media.Woodblocks and copperplates transmitted the designs that would adorn maps, prints, and other decorative objects on paper. European printed textiles first sought to imitate elaborate painted cottons from India, known as chintz; with improved technology in the 18th century, yards of cheaper printed cottons eventually became available. Transfer-printed ceramics allowed for quick and inexpensive decoration. For the first time handsomely decorated pottery with intricate designs and lively colors was affordable for the middle classes. These developments led to mass-production and greater access to decoration and color on commodities.
In the first session (March 16), Librarian and Curator of Maps, David Bosse will lay the groundwork for the printing process, beginning with an introduction to early papermaking. Period techniques of preparing wood blocks and copperplates for printing will be discussed, as will the methods of reproducing transferred designs on a hand-operated press. An overview of hand-applied coloring techniques on printed surfaces will conclude the session.
In the second session (March 23), Curator of Textiles Ned Lazaro will explore 18th-century printed textile design. Beginning with colorfast painted and printed cottons from India, these fabrics served to inspire later European and American printed examples. Into the 19th century, technological developments on both sides of the Atlantic allowed for yards of identically printed, colorful designs to be produced faster and more cheaply than ever before.
For the final session (March 30) Curatorial Department Director and Curator of Historic Interiors Amanda Lange will discuss the development and process of transfer printing on English ceramics in the mid-18th century. By the early decades of the 19th century, great quantities of transferware were produced to meet the demand for decorated table, tea, and toilet wares. Blue was initially the most popular color, but changing fashions and improvements in technology resulted in a variety of hues.