We did it! Large edition of hand-embellished prints

 Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 7 , Hand-Embellished Print, custom crop (detail). Archival print, laser cut, gold leaf. ©2018.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 7, Hand-Embellished Print, custom crop (detail). Archival print, laser cut, gold leaf. ©2018.

In early April, a large order of Hand-Embellished Prints left the studio to make their way overseas for framing and then final installation in their new home. While I can't yet reveal who this project is for, below are more behind-the-scenes shots of the work in progress. 

This commission has held my attention since mid-February, with some major obstacles to overcome along the way. I am so pleased that the work was completed on time, thanks to awesome help in the studio and a couple of loooong weeks for the final push at the end.

Read on to learn what V.E. in my signature seal in the image above means and why it applies to this project.

 Work in progress, hand-embellished variable edition print. Kelly M. O'Brien ©2018. 

Work in progress, hand-embellished variable edition print. Kelly M. O'Brien ©2018. 

A hand-embellished print is an archival print of an original work of art that is enhanced through additional handwork by the artist. The original artwork is first professionally photographed or scanned, then printed onto archival fine art paper. An artist adds touches of varnish, paint, collage, etc. to make the print a bit more special than a straightforward replication.

For my Hand-Embellished Prints (HEPs), we use images of full-size originals or customized crops (e.g., portions blown up and cropped to special effect). I also create commissioned originals specifically for a project that are then photographed for prints or HEPs. For example, instead of an entire hotel of originals in every room, the client can commission one original, have it photographed, and use the prints (enhanced or otherwise) for the larger project.

In the hospitality sector where much of my work is placed, this is a great solution for large multi-room projects that require a high volume of artwork. The HEPs are a particularly good solution when a client wants something special, yet originals would be otherwise cost-prohibitive.

 Work in progress, hand-embellished variable edition print. Kelly M. O'Brien ©2018. 

Work in progress, hand-embellished variable edition print. Kelly M. O'Brien ©2018. 

Our embellishments are a two-step process. First the prints are lasercut in exactly the same places as the burn marks on the photograph. Then we add either brushed gold paper or real gold leaf to the back of each cut mark so that it shows through the lasered holes. It is labor-intensive, but the effect is worth it!

To complete the HEP, we give it a white-glove cleaning, add my studio seal, and number it. A limited print edition is simply one finite run of the same image. A variable edition is when each print varies in some small way–a few extra burns done by hand here and there–but is still from the same original image.

 Big smiles as we near the end of a large run of variable edition hand-embellished prints. Kelly O'Brien and Pip Falkner-Lee.

Big smiles as we near the end of a large run of variable edition hand-embellished prints. Kelly O'Brien and Pip Falkner-Lee.

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