• The Beauty of Mirrored Leaves

    Kimberly Glassman

    Alois Auer von Welsbach (1813-1869) and Andreas Worring (ca. 1806-unknown) devised a process called the intaglio printing method, wherein a dried, pressed plant was sandwiched between a polished copper or steel plate and a sheet of lead and sent through the copperplate press.

    The great pressure caused the plant to leave a highly detailed impression on the lead. Since the lead plate was too soft to print from, it was electrotyped twice. The final electrotype became the intaglio printing plate. The plate was printed ‘à la poupée’, meaning several different colours were worked into the recesses of the plate before being printed in one run through an intaglio printing press. But how did Auer achieve a reflection effect when printing his plants? In “The discovery of self-printing from nature” (1853), Auer and Worring experimented with an intaglio method for mirrored leaves.
    It was essentially the same as their intaglio method for plants, except that two mirrored impressions were made by sandwiching a leaf between two lead plates. When sent through a rolling press, both lead plates were imprinted with a leaf texture and both went on to be electrotyped twice for printing on an intaglio press. The results are astounding geometric reflections that highlight the beautiful symmetry found in nature.