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How its made: Photo Blocks

PHOTO BLOCK – a coated fine art inkjet print mounted to 3/4” baltic birch plywood, created in Newport, RI by photographer Alexander “Sandy” Nesbitt (known variations: blocks, photo plaque, wood plaque, photo on wood, photoblock, wood mounted print) 

Photo blocks are handmade art prints, created and produced at Sandy’s studio using his own photography and coating techniques refined over the last 25 years of producing fine art pieces involving mounted prints. Designed to offer a small print that doesn’t require framing, each block has a pre-cut slot in the back for easy hanging. The 3/4” thickness of the wood also allows the small prints to stand on edge for easy display on a shelf. While each image can be printed over and over again, each photo block is produced by hand and therefore bears the signature of the artist. 

Watch Sandy in action in this short video:

A good craftsman never shares all of his secrets. . . you won’t find a similar style product out there made with the same attention detail and clarity of image!

Blink always has over 100 photo blocks in stock! Any image in the photo collection can be made as a block – don’t see it in stock? Just ask.

Blocks are available in 3 standard sizes: small 5×8, large 8×12, and pano 5×16. Not every image is available in panorama, as this is usually a cropped version of a full frame. The size ratios work out really well if you want to make a group. Why pick a favorite, when you can make a whole collection!

Curious about how other prints are made? Start here with a look at dye sublimation prints.

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Dye Sublimation Printing: The Facts

image of the rocky shoreline at sachuest point in middletown, ri
A 32×48 semi-gloss finish dye sublimation print on aluminum

What exactly is Dye Sublimation Printing? Glad you asked! Dye Sublimation is a printing technique that utilizes heat to transfer dye onto a variety of materials. In our case we print on aluminum (not glass!) The result is a hyper realistic fine art photography print.

The Process:

Sublimation is defined as heating something and turning it into vapor without entering the liquid stage. The dye sublimation process lends itself to photography naturally because it yields much higher quality results visually. This is due to the use of a thermal transfer where the high temperature results in dye being vaporized and imbued onto the surface of the aluminum. The molecular bonding process begins which will adhere the dye to the surface and create a permanent transfer. When the dyes return to their solid form they appear glossy, bright and inviting. Since the dye is bonded with the aluminum it also makes the print less susceptible to distortion or color fading. This process is how our Dye Subs get that bright, backlit effect that makes them stand out amongst other fine art prints.

The History:

The origins of Dye Sublimation printing lead back to the 1950s in France, and to a French researcher named Noel De Plasse. De Plasse concluded that dye does in fact sublimate and he could manipulate it for printing while working for a textile company named Lainière de Roubaix. De Plasse continued to develop the process and eventually founded a new company titled Sublistatis SA to commercialize the technique. Its US origins began in the 1970s at the Jet Propulsion lab in Pasadena, CA. Here a team led by Wes Hoekstra invented the first printer that could handle the complex dye sublimation printing process. Hoekstra is commonly referred to as the “Father” of the computer image sublimation process due to his valuable contributions to the field.

An Aluminum Dye Sub print installed in a home.

Making It Our Own:

Here at Blink Gallery we offer various printing methods but our aluminum prints continue to be the most popular! We offer a variety of sizes, finishes and compositions to make a truly unique offering to our clients. In addition to dye sublimation, we also offer a “Hand Brushed Aluminum Print”. The coating on these prints is applied by hand and therefore each piece is truly one of a kind and no two are identical. More on those in a future blog post!

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How it’s made: photo and canvas prints

There seems to be a general sense of confusion around photography when its for sale. People don’t know what it is they are getting. Is it a digital image? How is it printed? Are millions of them made? What’s does that word giclée mean that people use?

Let’s try to clear up a little of the confusion for you.

Giclée is a word that was used in the 90’s to refer to high quality ink-jet prints. With the rise of digital photography, basically all fine art photos would be called giclées by that definition and therefore the term is more now more commonly used when talking about ink jet reproductions of paintings or other types of 2-D media (drawings, pastels, watercolors, etc that have been photographed or scanned and then printed).

With the exception of a few images from our archives that we sell sporadically (silver prints, chromolithographs, etc), all photos sold at Blink Gallery are prints made from digital photo files. They are signed by the photographer, and numbered if they are part of a limited edition (all images 8×10 and larger are limited edition). The images are printed, matted, and framed at photographer Alexander Nesbitt’s studio in Newport, RI. Its a small business producing high-quality images prepared at the highest standard.

You may have also seen large photos printed on canvas, and wondered how that works. Its simple – the same large format printer that prints on paper also prints on canvas (or metal, or other materials)! Canvas prints are then coated with a thin layer of laquer to make them water and fade resistant. They are still limited edition fine art prints, just prepared in a slightly different way. Our canvas prints are also made at Nesbitt’s studio, each one stretched by hand.

For more general information about what sizes of prints we make and sell please visit the INFO: Photo blocks, framing, and print sizes page.

Anything else you want explained? Leave a comment and let us know!