Mila Radišić, a copper engraving printmaker from Croatia, composed this lovely article as her Tribute to Engraving.
Being a self-taught engraver and working alone on copper plates I used to think I had developed my own technique. Later, I found out that Jacopo de Barbari (1440?-1516?) worked in the same manner – copper engraving which, by its character, resembles drypoint.Thank you Mila for the insight into your work and your process. If anyone reading this is knowledgeable about copper engraving, please contact Mila as she is very keen to reach out to the printmaking community and to learn more about her chosen craft.
Recently I find out that tradition of metal engraving is dying. This inspires me to write this article. Working alone was not easy. This article, I hope, will be inspiring to others who are struggling out there in order to find their own way of expression, their own way of life.
It takes a few years until I learn how to properly use tools, how to sharpen them, how to prepare copper plate, how to prepare paper...Most important lesson I learned was that character of engraved line depend on character of engraving burins, and engraver's own character. Only perfectly sharpened burins can produce line which characterize engraving, thin on the beginning and at the end. That line is perfect for drawing human face, human body, animals, clothes, different items, telling stories, making atmosphere giving hope...
I use to make engraving directly on the plate with pencil. Then I use to engrave main lines and start to cut my picture. Few years before I «discover» engraving I use to draw pictures with ink using small circles. This is one unfinished «circle» picture!
This way of drawing was very slow but it was some kind of training for demanding engraving. After few hundred of such drawings I start to use engraving. Finding it was some kind of revelation for me. At once I made few engravings. Here is one from that period, also unfinished so that you can see how it is connected to the «circle» drawing above.
As you can see further engraving is in fact a relief in copper. Working it is like carving in stone. While you do it you must have a deep respect and acceptance for noble metal copper.
First engravings I did not print since at that time I know very little about printing process and I just put them on the wall of my studio.
Engraver should be sure in his drawing and should have a sense of humour.
On these engravings you can see how I develop my manner in order to present my vision. It is vision actually which came out of me in this wonderful technique of copper-engraving.
Engraving means thinking straight, overcoming the superficial, external life we so easily fall into. I have a small web site and a great desire to learn more, to share more.