Historic Beginnings

Engraving represents the pinnacle of printmaking. It was made famous during the 15th Century when artists such as Albrecht Durer created works with woodcut and copper engraving. The engraving process is one of the oldest methods used to produce repeatable images; it is at the heart of Curio Prints’ working ethos.

The earliest evidence of print technology dates back to Sumeria in 3000 BC, when engraved designs on cylinders were rolled into soft clay tablets to leave a relief impression. This rolling cylinder principle has since evolved. Today, we use it to give banknotes the finest possible detail.


Intaglio is the direct opposite of a relief print, where the raised areas of a block hold the ink. An image is incised into a surface – copper, zinc or steel, for instance – to make lines or sunken areas which will hold the ink. There are many techniques of intaglio which, when printed, create a variety of textures – including: Aquatint, dry-point, engraving, etching, and mezzotint.

Intaglio Etching

Etching is an intaglio process in which an acid-resistant coating is applied to a plate, an image is cut into the ground with a needle and then the plate is submerged into an acid bath to establish the image into the plate. For artist printmaking, the etched area is then inked and printed onto a sheet of dampened soft, cotton rich paper. For engraved stationery, untreated paper with a harder, smoother paper is selected to withstand pressure printing known as die-stamping.

Intaglio Engraving

An intaglio process where lines are incised by hand with burins & gravers into copper plates and refined by hand with tools called burnishers. Engraved stationery plates are then steel hardened for die-stamping. Paper is pressed into the lines in the plate with under great pressure to produce embossed print of the finest detail and great tactility.

Letterpress Engraving

Letterpress produces a relief printing process where the image is cut into end-grain woodblocks. The raised design is pressed into paper produce debossed print (the reverse of embossed print).

Contemporary Letterpress

Letterpress Photopolymer is a contemporary process using polymer photo plate technology.