Florence has been the world’s capital of arts and handcrafts for centuries, and offers the perfect environment where to join courses of ancient processes and techniques. If you are interested in antique printmaking, you should not miss out on the courses of chalcography and xylography offered in Florence by Studiainitalia, specialized in creative tourism and language courses in Italy.
What is Printmaking?
Printmaking is the process of making artworks by printing, normally on paper but occasionally on fabric, parchment, or other support. The result are prints that have an element of originality, created under the direct supervision of or by the hand of the artist. Such fine prints are considered original works of art, even though they can exist in multiples [Encyclopaedia Britannica].
Chalcography is the art of engraving on metal plates, especially for printing and for illustrations in the production of books. The word derives from the Greek terms chalcos, copper and graphia, to write. The first available news on this print technique date back to 1450, when goldsmith Maso Finiguerra conceived it and used it in Florence.
The most ancient book bearing chalcographies – Monte dei Santi di Dio by Antonio Bettini – was printed in Florence on September 10, 1477. However, its primacy is contested by Ptolemy’s Cosmographia, printed three months earlier in Bologna and containing geographical charts engraved in copper plates.
Xylography (also known as woodcut) is a technique for transferring onto paper an image carved in relief on a wooden block. Xylon, in Greek, means wood.
It is likely that it originated as early as the 8th century in Chinese Buddhist temples. However, European use of the woodcut as a means to produce old master prints began in the 15th century. One of the earliest such works is The Fire Madonna (Madonna del Fuoco), an early woodcut that miraculously survived a fire in 1428, and still resides in the Cathedral of Forlì. Italian artisans raised the level of the craft during the 16th century.
Chalcography and Xylography Courses
The printmaking workshops in Florence offer one, two or more weeks of Chalcography and Xylography courses. You can book a 24, 48, 72 or 96-hour course and distribute your hours along the number of weeks of your choice.
These hands-on courses are conducted by local artists, masters concerned with maintaining Italian artistic traditions alive. The programs are focused on a direct approach to the techniques. As a participant you will create sketches, prepare plates and blocks, and – at the end – you will print your artwork!
The Chalcography and Xylography courses take place in a “Bottega”, or a typical artisan workshop located in the historic center of Florence. Here, participants will find a cheerful and informal atmosphere.
Lessons are delivered in Italian: the course is very practical and it is not required to have previous knowledge of Italian language; however you can apply for an interpretation service or you can combine this course with an Italian language course in Florence.
Need accommodation in Florence? Studiainitalia can help you with that too, offering a wide range of possibilities, from carefully selected Italian host families to shared apartments and private studio apartments.