Pressing Matters: The Art of Printing at Historic Deerfield

March 16, 2017 - March 30, 2017 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

The Flynt Center of Early New England Life - 37D Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA 01342


Thursdays, March 16, 23, 30, 2017 
7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
The Flynt Center of Early New England Life

If, as Shakespeare declared, the world is deceived by ornament, then 18th-century men and women avidly practiced the art of deception.  Whether to project refinement, wealth, status or novelty, individuals embraced ornament in its many guises.  Thus a myriad of goods embellished with visually striking designs provided instructional or decorative effects and served to create a new visual vocabulary. Printing allowed for the exact replication of images and motifs that quickly reached a broad market and helped transform the very objects it decorated.

Through a combination of lecture and object study, this three-part course will examine the practice of printing on different media.Woodblocks and copperplates transmitted the designs that would adorn maps, prints, and other decorative objects on paper. European printed textiles first sought to imitate elaborate painted cottons from India, known as chintz; with improved technology in the 18th century, yards of cheaper printed cottons eventually became available.  Transfer-printed ceramics allowed for quick and inexpensive decoration. For the first time handsomely decorated pottery with intricate designs and lively colors was affordable for the middle classes. These developments led to mass-production and greater access to decoration and color on commodities.

In the first session (March 16), Librarian and Curator of Maps, David Bosse will lay the groundwork for the printing process, beginning with an introduction to early papermaking.  Period techniques of preparing wood blocks and copperplates for printing will be discussed, as will the methods of reproducing transferred designs on a hand-operated press.  An overview of hand-applied coloring techniques on printed surfaces will conclude the session.

In the second session (March 23), Curator of Textiles Ned Lazaro will explore 18th-century printed textile design. Beginning with colorfast painted and printed cottons from India, these fabrics served to inspire later European and American printed examples. Into the 19th century, technological developments on both sides of the Atlantic allowed for yards of identically printed, colorful designs to be produced faster and more cheaply than ever before.  

For the final session (March 30) Curatorial Department Director and Curator of Historic Interiors Amanda Lange will discuss the development and process of transfer printing on English ceramics in the mid-18th century. By the early decades of the 19th century, great quantities of transferware were produced to meet the demand for decorated table, tea, and toilet wares. Blue was initially the most popular color, but changing fashions and improvements in technology resulted in a variety of hues.

All classes are held at the Flynt Center of Early New England Life.


David Bosse, Historic Deerfield’s Librarian and Curator of Maps, has worked in the map collections of the Newberry Library (Chicago) and the Clements Library, University of Michigan. He has written numerous articles and reviews on the history of American mapmaking, is author of Civil War Newspaper Maps: A Historical Atlas (Baltimore, 1993) and a contributor to Mapping Boston (Boston, 1999). In 2007, he curated the exhibition, “North by North-East: Five Centuries of New England Maps” at the Flynt Center of Early New England Life.

David (Ned) Lazaro is Historic Deerfield’s Curator of Textiles. Mr. Lazaro collects and interprets Historic Deerfield’s fashion and textile collection. He holds a BS in Apparel Marketing and a MA in Fashion and Textile History, both from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has lectured and published on 18th-century fashion, 19th-century undergarments, and 20th-century dress design and marketing.

Amanda E. Lange is Curatorial Department Director and Curator of Historic Interiors at Historic Deerfield.  She has curated the ceramics, glass, and metalware collections at Historic Deerfield for the past 23 years. She published Delftware at Historic Deerfield (2001) and Chinese Export Art at Historic Deerfield (2005), and is currently at work on a catalogue of the museum’s English pottery collection.

Registration Fee:

Non-member Registration: $100 per person.
Members of Historic Deerfield: $90 per person.
Individual lectures are offered at $30 for members; $35 for non-members.

Special Membership Offer:
If you would like to become a new member of the Friends of Historic Deerfield, please increase your non-member registration fee by $20.* Membership entitles you to free admission to Historic Deerfield, 10% discount at the Deerfield Inn and Museum Store, Historic Deerfield Magazine, the members’ newsletter published twice a year, and invitations to members’ exhibition openings, lectures, and special trips. (This special rate cannot be used for renewals of current or lapsed members.)

Cancellation Policy:
A full refund of the registration fee can be obtained if you cancel before 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 9, 2017.