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Printmaking with Professor Fred Hagstrom

Chi reminisces about her first experience with printmaking.

Chi reminisces about her first experience with printmaking.


On October 19th, instead of grouping together in Boliou 140 for our Argument and Inquiry class, we (including our A&I teacher, Professor Jessica Keating) paid a visit to the Printmaking Room downstairs to learn more about the deepest secrets of engraving. It’s a form of art that, in my personal and humble opinion, is widely underappreciated. A form of art that requires hours of sitting until your butts fall asleep, moving your burin carefully else risk making stupid mistakes that will haunt you for the rest of your living days, scraping off the burr like there’s no tomorrow. I will call it a master art, for every person who has the patience to suffer through all of this deserves this glorious rank.

At around 1:40pm we were already crowding around the grand table to the right of the room, eagerly watching Professor Fred Hagstrom guide us through the laborious yet very rewarding process of making an engraving. The method slash process we used is called intaglio, where we used a tool called a burin to engrave lines onto the surface of a plate (we used plastic, but professional artists favour copper). Then ink would be applied to the plate so that after being wiped off, parts of it would still remain in the grooves. After that, a piece of paper would be placed on the plate and compressed by, for example, a heavy roller. The resulting image would be flipped, as you could imagine.

I was not the biggest fan of imagination and extensive creativity, so I struggled to come up with a design or detail of my own to reproduce, but Professor Keating, in a way, really saved me by giving out details (specifically, Albrecht Dürer’s Nemesis) for us to copy. The reason, given by her, was that she wanted us to go through and experience the processes that the Nürnberg master went through and, thus, maybe have a clearer idea about his life and art (which was also the title of our A&I course: The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer).

I must say, after beavering away, working on my own engraving, I came to a conclusion that Albrecht Dürer had a lot of time to spare. By the end of the day, I could not properly fold my index finger, for it had been straining over holding the burin for such an extensive amount of time that it had lost its own flexibility. Now I am starting to wonder if Albrecht Dürer’s hands and fingers were distorted as such after a life of dedication to this type of art.

(this is a picture of my own plate!)

But I am very proud of my own artwork! Despite the fact that I stupidly forgot that the image would be reversed and thus engraving my name without flipping it over first, resulting in the very annoying and stupid imperfection that acted as a reminder of my own forgetfulness for the rest of my waking days. But oh well, this was decent enough for a first try!

(and this is the result!)

I admire the people who pursue this method of art. I think I will start calling Professor Hagstrom a master from now on. A title befitting one of the best, just like Dürer in the very late 15th century.


Chi is a self-proclaimed insomniac freshman zombie that always complain about not getting enough sleep, even though she deliberately goes to bed at 2am and wakes up spontaneously at 6am thanks to her roommate’s closet door. She constantly talks (obsessively) about how much she yearns to major in Chemistry and German, yet she’s starting to eye the awesome dark art that is called Geology with much desire. Meet the other bloggers!