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Raised Line Prints: Bertha Lum

While living in Peking in 1922, Bertha Lum developed a new type of print, often referred to as a raised line print. First, she molded wet paper over a carved wooden block. After the paper dried, she handpainted the embossed paper using the raised lines to delineate the areas of colors. According to her daughter, Peter Lum Crowe, this was an old Chinese technique that Lum adapted for her own use.

In contrast to her woodblock prints, which were printed by artisans to look almost exactly alike, Lum's raised line prints often had significant variations in colors. An example of this variation can be seen in the 1924 print, Parrot, which also exists in a multi-colored version. It is not known how many raised line prints were made from each keyblock, but the editions were likely much smaller than her woodblock prints.

Lum made many designs as both a woodblock print and a raised line print, perhaps experimenting to see which format suited the design better. When made from the same keyblock, the woodblock print and raised line print would be mirror images. An example of this mirroring is found in the woodblock print and the raised line print called Butterfly Dance. However, not all of Lum's woodblock and raised line print pairs are mirror images. This means that she did not always use the same keyblock for molding the raised line prints. In the design, Porcelain Pagoda, the woodblock print and the raised line print are not mirror images and have other minor differences that confirm that they were made from different blocks.

1. Wei Hai Wei City Gate (raised line)

2. Parrot (raised line)
(1922, 10.6 x 18 in.)

3. Butterfly Dance (raised line)
(1924, 10.1 x 14.8 in.)

4. Bowl of Fruit (raised line)
(1924, 23 x 16 in.)

5. Chinese Hat (raised line)

6. Chufu, Birthplace of Confucius (raised line)

7. Confucius Temple (raised line)
(1924, 17 x 26 in.)

8. Geisha (raised line)

9. Tan Shi Sou, White Snake Temple (raised line)

10. Marionettes (raised line)
(1927, 24 x 18 in.)

11. Garden Door (raised line)
(1929, 8.4 x 14.1 in.)

12. Chinese Children at Play (raised line)

13. Elephant Procession (raised line)
(1930, 47 x 19.5 in.)

14. Javanese Dancers (raised line)

15. Spinning Goddess (raised line)

16. Lotus Goddesses (raised line)
(1932, 4 x 11 in.)

17. The Wave (raised line)
(1932, 23 x 36 in.)

18. Forbidden City (raised line)
(1933, 9 x 15.5 in.)

19. Kwanyin, Goddess of Mercy (raised line)

20. Sea King's Daughter (raised line)
(1935, 8 x 15 in.)

21. Porcelain Pagoda (raised line)

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