Terminology of Holy Cards

Aquatint [acquatinta]: it's a variant of etching. Where the etching technique uses a needle to make lines that print in black, aquatint uses powdered resin which is acid resistant in the ground to create a tonal effect and to give aquatints a distinctive, watery look.

Application [applicazione]: a decorative element (consisting in material, mother-of-pearl, chromolithography, straw) assembled on the holy card (stuck, sewn or embroidered).

At surprise, holy card at surprise [santino a sorpresa]: composed by several parts that hide an image inside.

Aureole [aureola]: see Halo.

Background [fondo, fondino]: the part of a picture that lies behind objects in the foreground

Border [bordo]: a strip forming the outer edge of a holy card

Burin [bulino]: a chisel of tempered steel with a sharp point, used for engraving.

Burin Engraving [incisione a bulino]: an engraving made by using a hardened steel tool called a burin to cut the design into the surface, most traditionally a copper plate.

Canif: a penknife with a very thin and cutting blade, used for the carving of paper and parchment.

Canivet [canivet]: it's an handmade finely carved holy card, on paper or parchment, with a miniature at the core of the card. This technique dates from  the beginning of the 16th century and then it has spread especially in France, Italy, Holland. The term comes from the french name of the tool "canif", a small penknife, used for the embroidery production. The production of this type of holy card ceased around 1835, with the beginning of the mechanical processes.

Chromolithography [cromolitografia]: is a method for making multi-color prints. Each color in the image must be separately drawn onto a new stone or plate and applied to the paper one at a time.

Collage: a paste-up made by sticking together pieces of colored paper, material. sprangles, chromolithographies, dried flowers to form an artistic image

Copperplate engraving [cromolitografia]: an engraving consisting of a smooth plate of copper that has been etched or engraved: an engraved or etched sheetsof copper is inked (with a color at a time) and then have paper rolled over it to produce a copy.

Dressed image [immagine "vestita" or santino "vestito"]: an image covered with material or paper in order to imitate a dress.

Embossing [goffrare]: the process of creating a three-dimensional image or design in paper and other ductile materials.

Embossed [goffrato]: embellished with a raised pattern created by pressure or embroidery.

Engraving [incisione]: is the practice of incising a design onto a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing images on paper, which are called engravings.

Etching [acquaforte]: an impression made from an etched plate. The process as applied to printmaking revolutionizes the technique for old master printsa at the beginnign of the 1500.  The surface of the plate is covered in a hard, waxy 'ground' that resists acid. The printmaker then scratches through the ground with a sharp point, exposing lines of metal that are attacked by the acid.

Halo or aureole [aureola]: an indication of radiant light drawn around the head of a Saint, of the Virgin Mary or of Christ. Sacred persons may be depicted with many kinds of halos:  linear rays radiating out from the head, plain round halos, a shape of a lighting cloud, a circular glow around the whole body or a "almond-shaped" halo  (often called mandorla), a floating semi-transparent ring of light (in Leonardo), a circle of stars (Mary as the Woman of the Apocalypse), a square halo (used for a living person), a cross within (to represent Jesus), a triangular halo (to represent the Holy Trinity).

Imprimatur: formal and explicit ecclesiastic approval and permission for a book or a prayer to be printed.  It declares that  a literary work is free from error in matters of Roman Catholic doctrine. Ordinarily an imprimatur is granted by a bishop.

Lagging [centinato]: a border of a holy card with the shape of arches or embroidered with scallop edgings.

Liberty, Liberty Style [stile Liberty]: is an international movement and style of art, architecture and applied art -especially the decorative arts- that peaked in popularity at the turn of the 20th century. It is characterized by organic, especially floral and other plant-inspired motifs, as well as highly-stylized, flowing curvilinear forms. The popularity in Italy of Art Nouveau designs from London's Liberty & Co department store resulted in it being known as the Stile Liberty ("Liberty style"), and in the United States it became known as the "Tiffany style" due to its connection to Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Oleograph: an image realised through a process of oleography.

Oleography [oleografia]:  the production of chromolithographs printed in oil colors on canvas or cloth as well as on paper.

Paillette: see Sequin

Parchment [pergamena]: skin of a sheep or goat prepared for writing on.

Pochoir: in the Pochoir process, a print with the outlines of the design was produced, and a series of stencils were used through which areas of color were applied by hand to the page. (see also Stencil)

Relic [reliquia]:  First-Class Relic: the physical remains of a saint (a bone, a hair, a limb). Second-Class Relic: an item that the saint wore. Third-Class Relic: any object that is touched to a first class relic.

Relief printing [stampa a rilievo]:

Scroll [cartiglio]: a depiction in the shape of a partially unfolded roll of paper.  It's a space used to write the name of the Saint  represented in the holy card.

Sequin [paillette, lustrino]: adornment consisting of a small piece of shiny and colored material used to decorate a holy card.

Siderography [siderografia]: the technique of engraving on steel.

Sign (or signature) [firma]: the name of an engraver, his initials or his monogram, marked on a engraving. Usually the name of the engraver is down on the right while the name of the drawer is on the left side.

Stencil: a template used to draw or paint identical letters, symbols, shapes. A stencil is formed by removing sections from a template material in the form of text or an image. This creates what is essentially a physical negative. The template can then be used to create impressions of the stenciled image, by applying pigment on the surface of the template and through the removed sections, leaving a reproduction of the stencil on the underlying surface. Since it can be produced quickly and easily, stencil has also become popular for graffiti in Street Art. Stencil technique in visual art is also referred to as pochoir.

Surprise: see At surprise.

Theatre, little theatre, three dimensional holy card [santino a teatrino, santino ad altarino]:  a hand-made holy card with pictures, generally copperplate engravings, laid on different perspectives, through small flaps, in order to create a three dimensional effect.

Watercolor [acquarello, acquerello]: a painting method in wich the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water soluble vehicle. Watercolor painting is extremely old but became popular  in Europe during 16th century to pigment woodblock illustrations.

Woodcut or Xylography [xilografia]: a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed.

Xylography: see Woodcut.