Sunday, January 31, 2010

A family gift

Last year was a banner year for meeting new family members. I thought for a long time on how to further connect these family members to our collective heritage. How about an etching? Not any old etching mind you.

I am fortunate to have access to a number of etching plates that my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Charles Philippe de Büren created in the 1780s. One is of the family crest, and I thought about giving original prints to de Büren family members around the world. I first tried a local print house in San Francisco, but the results were not what I had in mind.

Upon hearing of my vision, my cousin Bill Harsh came to the rescue, a skilled artist, printmaker and all-around great guy. I ventured over to his studio in Benicia and after a lengthy tutorial I was off and running; inking the etching plate, cleaning it, giving it a good "coup de main" and cranking it ever so deliberately through the press. To make the gift more authentic, the prints are made on Swiss linen paper from the 1730s.

Let's recap. An etching printed in 2010 by the great-great-great-great-grandson of the artist from a 230 year-old plate on 280 year-old paper. It was a good day, I have the black fingernails to prove it.

Inking the plate

The skilled hands of the master craftsman helping me along

Removing excess ink

The final products drying


  1. That's amazingly cool! Where does one find linen paper from the 1730s?! I imagine it's not just lying around at Blick or Office Depot...

  2. Very cool! And yeah, where the hell did you dig up paper from the 1730s?

  3. Very nice. I love scrolly designs. I don't have a family crest, very cool idea.

  4. That's fantastic! I wish I had plates like that for my family's coat of arms!

  5. Wow. I just found your blog and love it. It looks like I have found my new distraction from work! Thanks for sharing.



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