The unique etching and printing process of William Blake

Video and thumbnail image © The British Library Board

Anyone who knows me knows that I've been a near-lifelong armchair student of the 18th/19th century artist, poet, printer, engraver, and philosopher, William Blake. Because of this association, whenever something Blake-related is trending, I hear about it because friends and family start sending me the link. This video, which I've long admired, must have resurfaced recently because my inbox suddenly overfloweth.

First released online in 2014, this 8-minute video, produced for the British Library, shows Blake researcher and printmaker, Michael Phillips, taking a reproduction of William Blake's etched copper plates from inking through printing. The narration (by Phillips) not only does an excellent job of explaining what we're seeing, but it's also a decent thumbnail introduction to Blake's inventive approach to his art.

Here is a video from the Ashmolean Museum which includes more of Michael Phillips talking about Blake's printing process.

Video © University of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology [YouTube]

It's a shame that there doesn't appear to be a comparable video on the etching process that Blake used or one on how he finished the resulting "illuminated prints" with watercolor and sometimes gold leaf. A modern approximation of his process can be found at the 54:56 mark in this lecture series from Vancouver Island University.

For a thought-provoking and very accessible introduction to Blake, his work, and the complex mytho-poetic cosmology that he created, I can't recommend John Higgs' recent William Blake vs. the World highly enough. One of the best Blake explainer books I've read.

Video and thumbnail image © The British Library Board

[H/t Peter Bebergal]

Video and thumbnail image © The British Library Board