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Studio Calcografico Ippogrifo


Biography of the artist

Vincenzo Volpi was born near Pontassieve, in the province of Florence in 1954. Very young he had to follow his family who moved to Florence, where he is still living now. When he was eleven, he lost his father and was before time forced to face up difficulties of every-day life. Being a very sensitive person, but also supported by a will of iron, he managed to continue studying by selling his first pictures. He took the certificate at the Art School and pretty soon he tried to get a deeper knowledge of the pictorial arts and satisfy his interest in the subject. He travelled through Europe, lived long time in Paris and East Germany, where he had the possibility to improve his talent in the graphic and miniature arts. In the seventies, he was back in Florence where he worked actively at the Ciompi theatre and therefore had the opportunity to meet the other engravers. Together they founded the art print studio -laboratory named “Ippogrifo”, which has become a real centre for the technical research of the old art of engraving. After long time of artistic activity in the florentine area, living in the historical district named San Frediano, now the Studio Calcografico Ippogrifo has its seat in a great cottage, among the mountains of Monte Giovi; where also lived Giotto, Beato Angelico and Don Milani, the famous priest of Barbiana. You can find the complete catalogue and the last engravings in our site www.vincenzovolpi.it .

The technique of etching “Aqua fortis” is the name traditionally given to nitric acid, well-known for its corrosive qualities. Consequently, the artistic prints produced using a metal plate engraved by means of an acid solution are known by the same name. The aqua fortis production process begins with an initial series of operations performed on the metal printing plate; after this the plate is inked and a copperplate press is used to press the moistened sheet of paper against it to produce the etching. The etching phase consists of the following procedures: The plate, normally made of copper, is spread with an even layer of waxy acid-resistant paint. The design is then made using steel tipped instruments of varying gauges to remove the paint tracing the lines of the desired image. Once the design is complete, the “bite” is performed. The plate is immersed in a bath of acid. In the areas where the paint has been removed, the acid etches grooves in the underlying metal To obtain different tones and nuances, or to highlight the various planes and depths of the design, different bite times are used, generally dark tones require a longer period of immersion in the acid. Once the last dip is complete, the paint is removed from the plate which is thoroughly cleaned and prepared for printing. Printing is performed with the help of a copperplate press. This is usually composed of a metal surface which passes between two cylinders which press down upon it, manoeuvred manually by special gears. The printing phase consists of the following procedures: The first phase consists of spreading the ink evenly over the plate, so that it fully penetrates all the grooves. The excess ink then has to be removed so that the engraved lines emerge with completely clean profiles. The plate is then placed on the surface of the press with the design facing upwards; a sheet of paper, previously moistened to soften it, is then placed over the plate. The revolving cylinders of the press exert pressure on the plate and the paper, thus transferring the ink from the plate to the paper; these are then carefully separated, the paper being peeled off delicately, holding the edges. The inked paper must then be dried under pressure so that the sheet retains a smooth and even form. In this way, a limited number of prints can be made from the same plate, before the latter deteriorates and becomes unusable. All the prints made from the same plate are rigorously signed and numbered by the artist. Of the two numbers, the first indicates the number of the individual print and the second the overall number of prints in the series.

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