Copper Engravings

kobberstikkerThe plates for Flora Danica are made on copper.  The copper plates are now at the Botanical Museum in Copenhagen, aside from the copper plates that were destroyed when Christiansborg burned in 1884.

Copper engraving is a graphic technique, developed in the beginning of the 1400s. A polished copper plate is covered by a thin layer of wax, through which the the motif is drawn; a piece of paper with ink on the back side may also be used. The motif must be drawn as a mirror-image to achieve a right print.

Next the motif is engraved in the copper plate with burins of various forms.  By varying the engraving considerable variation of expression is possible. Metallic turnings are scratched out.

The finished plate is then inked and dried so the colour is only in the furrows. Prints are then made in the press. Only one colour can be printed, and therefor coloured copper engravings are always hand coloured after printing.