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Common Art Terms
Bark Cloth - Bark cloth making is an ancient craft performed by the Baganda people who live in the Buganda kingdom in south Uganda. For over 600 years, craftsmen of the Ngonge clan have been manufacturing bark cloth for the Baganda royal family and the rest of the community, headed by a kaboggoza, the hereditary chief craftsman, who lives in the Nsangwa village in Mawokota, situated in Mpigi District.

The inner bark of the Mutuba tree (ficus natalensis) is harvested during the wet season and then, in a long and strenuous process, beaten with different types of wooden mallets to make its texture soft and fine and give it an even terracotta colour. Craftsmen work in an open shed to protect the bark from drying out too quickly  While common bark cloth is terracotta in colour, bark cloth of the kings and chiefs is dyed white or black and worn in a different style to underline their status.


Batik - The technique is thought to be more than a thousand years old, and historical evidence demonstrates that cloth decorated by means of this resist technique was in use in the early centuries AD in Africa, the Middle East, and in several places in Asia. Although there is no sure explanation as to where batik first was "invented", many observers believe that travellers brought it to Asia from the Indian subcontinent.

Melted wax is applied to cloth before this is being dipped into dye. Wherever the wax has seeped through the fabric, the dye will not penetrate. Sometimes several colors are used, with severl steps of dyeing, drying, and waxing. Thin wax lines are made with a tjanting (canting, pronounced chahn-ting) needle, a wooden-handled tool with a tiny metal cup with a tiny spout, out of which the wax seeps. Other methods of applying the wax to the fabric include pouring the liquid wax, painting the wax on with a brush, and applying the hot wax to a pre-carved wooden or metal wire block and stamping the fabric. One indication of the level of craftsmanship in a piece of batik cloth is whether the pattern is equally visible on both sides of the cloth. This indicates the application of wax on both sides, either with the canting or with mirror-image design blocks.

The finished fabric is hung up to dry. Then it is dipped into a solvent to dissolve the wax, or it is ironed between paper towels or newspapers to absorb the wax and reveal the deep rich colors and the fine crinkle lines that give batik its character.


Artist's Proof : A/P - (This may be penciled in at the bottom of a print). Prints outside the standard edition which are intended for the artist's own private collection and use as part of the original artist-publisher agreement. It is common practice to reserve approximately ten percent of an edition as artist's proofs, although this figure can be higher.

Limited Edition - Set of identical prints numbered in succession and signed by the artist. The total number of prints if fixed or "limited" by the artist who supervises the printing. All additional prints have been destroyed.

Lithograph - Printing technique using a planographic process in which prints are pulled on a special press from a flat stone or metal surface that has been chemically sensitized so that ink sticks only to the design areas and is repelled by the non-image areas. To create a lithograph with a number of different colors , a number of different plates must be prepared and the paper must go through the press each time a new color is to be added. Lithographs are usually printed in editions of several hundred. Each print is considered a "multiple original" because the artist pulled each one from the press, or closely supervised the press operator.

Monoprint - One-of-a-kind print conceived by the artist and printed by or under the artist's supervision.

Montage (Collage) - An artwork comprising of portions of various existing images such as from photographs or prints and arranged so that they join, overlap or blend to create a new image.

Open Edition - A series of prints or objects in an art edition that has an unlimited number of copies.

Original Art - Refers to art that is created by the artist's hand and is not reproduced mechanically.

Original Print - One-of-a-kind print in which the artist personally conceived the image, created the master plates and executed the entire printing process.

Printer's Proof - Print retained by the printer as a reference. Artists often sign these prints as a gesture of appreciation.

Remarque - Small sketch in the margin of an art print or additional enhancements by the artist on some or all of the final prints within an edition.

Restrike - Additional prints made from a master plate, block, lithograph stone, etc. after the original edition has been exhausted.

Signed and Numbered : S/N - At the bottom of each print in an edition, the artist pencils in his signature and numbers the print. The numbering appears as one number over another, for example, 15/30. This indicates that this was the 15th print to be signed and that there were 30 prints in all.

Trial Proof - Pre-cursor to a limited edition series, these initial prints are pulled so that the artist may examine, refine and perfect the prints to the desired final state. Trial proofs are generally not signed.

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