What is a Giclee´ Print?

The word Giclee´ (pronounced (Gee-Clay) is a French term that loosely translated means “the spray or the spurt” referring to the fact that a Giclee´ print is created on an ink jet printer that “sprays” the ink on to the paper or canvas.

Inkjet technology has been around for a  much longer time than most people realize.  The first inkjet printer was built in 1953 by Remington-Rand Co. Its purpose was to proof offset lithography prior to printing. Offset was the best way the printing industry could create prints from original paintings until the beginning of the 21st century.  The problem with the early prints were that the inks used were actually dyes not pigments.  Dyes are “fugitive,” meaning they faded in light very quickly. In the 1990’s new inks were developed and were better but still were still not suitable for producing quality prints that had a long life in normal home lighting conditions.

Some of the earlier inks were advertised as lasting for 40 - 50 years under museum conditions which at first read sounds reasonable.  The problem is that the average museum is about 50 lux of light while the average home is about 500 lux of light. Clearly the 40 - 50 year old permanence is severely reduced when placed in the average home. These inks were not truly ready for a commercial market even though they were an improvement.  Ink and printer manufacturers recognizing its tremendous potential of the medium worked to develop extremely high quality inks. New “pigmented” inks became the standard and over the next decade the Giclee´ Ultrachrome K3 inks were developed by Epson Company.  Their average life is 70 - 100  years under household conditions. The inkjet inks were now ready for commercial markets with a notable durability.  The term “durable” in the art world refers to resistance to both fading and color shifting. 

Giclee´ prints offer the artist numerous advantages over offset lithographic prints. Lithographs are produced with four colors while Giclee´ uses eight.  This offers the artist greater ability to control and adjust the color at any point. The old style lithographs were approximately 175 dots per inch (dpi) while the new Giclee´ are 1440 - 2880 dpi.  Most are at the 1440 dpi count except with very specialized media (papers) and primarily for photography reproduction. The eye stops recognizing individual dots making up an image at around 150 dpi.  This gives remarkable detail and color density and if archived at a high resolution they can be greatly enlarged without any pixilation, distortion or loss of color. Lithographs had to be printed all at the same time and the same size.  Giclee´ prints are printed on demand and one by one at any size chosen and on paper or canvas. This feature frees the artist from storing, moving and protecting them from damage. As each prints is sold it is a brand new print, not one that may have sat on a shelf in a stack for many years.

One of the greatest benefits to the collector is the ability to produce prints that are custom fit to the space where the art is to be hung.  In addition the prints can be printed on canvas and like an original on canvas they need no glass or matting. The varnishes are 100% UV protected and 100% waterproof requiring little care from the owner.  In addition canvas prints can be “embellished” which means the artist paints on the canvas applying extra color and brush work. enhancing them to mimic the original art.

For the artist it has offered the very best of the printing world.  In the past an artist had to often compromise on color being managed by a printer at some distant printing location. Too often because of distance, time and practicality compromises had to be made.  At Michael Ringer Galleries we have a complete printing facility with Michael Ringer in total production control from beginning to end.

Under normal household conditions tGiclee´ prints should last a person’s lifetime. The collector must still avoid obvious practices that damage art like hanging in direct sunlight or in very humid conditions such as would be found in a bathroom that had a shower.

Casting in Bronze

Civilizations of the old world cast in bronze for art, from the time of the introduction of the alloy to make spearheads and knives as weapons. The ancient Chinese, from about 1200BC, knew the method of lost-wax casting and in the Shang dynasty created large ritual vessels with complex designs that survived in ancient tombs. ™


Essentially this is the process;  The artist first creates a sculpture which can be made from any materials  however the most common are generally clay or wax.  To begin a model an armature must first be built.  An armature, often made of wire acts as the skeleton or framework support upon which the artist applies the clay.  Clay by itself, especially oil based clays that never harden, do not have enough strength to stand by themselves and need a strong internal support system.  

Once the clay work is done the sculpture is sent to a foundry to make a mold.  Keep in mind that the clay model is simply a model or “makette” that is necessary to create the original bronze. (A mold is made of each side of the sculpture (often many molds are used depending on the complexity of the sculpture) with a silicon liquid and then covered with a plaster (mother mold) cast to keep it solid.  When the mold is made each side will have very thin metal sheets dividing the two halves so it can be separated later. 

After the mold is removed from the clay it forms a “negative” with all the details imprinted into the mold.  The two halves are then put back together and  beeswax that has been melted is poured into the mold. When the wax hardens the two haves are separated and a “positive” wax model is removed that looks exactly like the clay model it was made from. 

The wax is then dipped back and forth into liquid ceramic and fine sand until a thick layer of ceramic covers it. This is© one solid piece, not two halves.  When the ceramic air hardens the wax is melted out, which is how Lost Wax got its name.  Now that the wax is out the ceramic it is then fired at about 1800º and then liquid bronze is poured in at 2050º fahrenheit.  When everything cools and hardens the bronze metal is much more durable than the brittle ceramic mold.  The foundry artists will then knock off the ceramic with everything from hand mallets and chisels to pneumatic air hammers.  When all the ceramic is off,  a raw bronze remains.  

The raw bronze needs some refinement by a “metal chaser’ who is a foundry  artist that will go over the surfaces with dremmel tools or whatever needed to make sure that the surface textures are exactly as they were in the clay.  Sometimes separate parts need to be welded on.  After metal chasing is complete it is taken to the receive a patina.

Bronze  is 95% copper and over the centuries it has been discovered how to change the surface of the metal or “patina”  the surface.  Hundreds of colors can be achieved through different oxides and carbonates (air oxidation and acids).  If you have ever looked at your copper tubing in the basement of your house you are aware of just some of the colors it can turn.  Another type of patina sometimes used is painted patina. A painted patina covers the surface while a chemical patina actually reacts with the surface.

After the patina is finished it is mounted on a base and ready for delivery to the collector.  The life of a modern day bronze is long even under less than ideal conditions. Bronze is most certainly one of the most enduring forms of art with a life expectancy beyond 20,000 years. To see original bronzes visit Michael Ringer’s, St. Lawrence Gallery on the Dingman Pt. Rd. just a mile north of Alexandria Bay. For information call 315 482 2833 or on line at www.michaelringer.com