Materials & Techniques

cliché-verre (printmaking)

Invented in the 19th century, cliché-verre is a printmaking process that combines painting or drawing techniques with photographic reproduction. To create the image, an artist first prepares a glass plate with an opaque ground and then removes or reduces the opacity of areas intended to appear darker in the final print. Photosensitive paper is placed beneath the prepared plate. When exposed to light, the areas where the artist increased the plate's transparency allow light to pass onto the paper, thus transferring the image in the same manner as printing from a negative. A chemical process of photographic development completes the cliché-verre process. The resulting print surface is smooth rather than indented by a printing press or textured by the application of ink.

Adapted from

Sara Woodbury, DMA label copy, 2011.