Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ed Morgan, Unique Artist of the Southwest

On our recent visit to Taos, New Mexico, we met a very unusual artist named Ed Morgan. Ed employs a unique process of creating beautiful embossed artwork using hand-engraved metal plates. In his studio in Taos, he explained his detailed and meticulous process, which he first learned while working for Hallmark Cards and American Greeting Cards.

"First I do the drawing on white paper before transferring it to the plate," Morgan says. "Using a stylus I trace the design onto a thin sheet of clear polyester film, which guides me as I begin to engrave the design into a thin magnesium-zinc plate."

As he transposes the design in reverse, the skillful artist must remember that the deepest recesses of the plate become the most highly raised area when the paper is embossed. When all of the details are engraved on the plate, he mounts it onto one side of a Kluge press in his studio. On the opposite side of the press, Morgan positions a gray board covered with a paste-like substance. After heating the press, he brings the metal plate and the board together in a series of hits. This contact molds the paste-covered board into the recesses of the plate to form its opposite--a positive, raised image. Morgan then begins the embossing process using 100 percent rag papers. The press brings 60 tons of pressure to bear on the paper to create the relief image. After the embossing process is complete, Morgan begins the meticulous process of applying watercolor directly on the print using one- and two-hair brushes. A Morgan trademark is the addition of tiny pieces of brightly colored silk, which is cut by his wife Virginia and then fused to the paper using the heated press.

To escape the laborious work in the studio, the Morgans enjoy going on rendezvous outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Wearing buckskins and pre-1840s clothing, the couple are frequent models for the paintings of their famous artist friend, Howard Terpning.

Morgan's work was featured in the Summer Show of Settlers West Galleries in Tucson on May 10, 2008. Feature stories on the artist have appeared in Southwest Art, Art of the West, and other publications. Examples of Morgan's work can be seen at

1 comment:

Jean Levert Hood said...

What an interesting person! This is what I call attention to detail - using a one and two hair brush!! Thank you for introducing us to this gentleman!