About the Element
Iridium, element 77, and osmium were discovered at the same time by the British chemist Smithson Tennant in 1803, in the black residue remaining after dissolving platinum ore with aqua regia, a very strong acid. Today, iridium is still obtained from platinum ores and as a by-product of mining nickel. Its name comes from the latin iris, rainbow. It is iridescent and brittle in metallic form, more resistant to corrosion than any other element. It is primarily used as a hardening agent for platinum in making crucibles and other high temperature equipment. Iridium is also alloyed with osmium to make the tips of fountain pens and compass bearings.

About the Print
The story that interested me is that there is a layer of iridium all over the world, laid down at the end of the Cretaceous period, likely due to the arrival of a very large meteorite, maybe causing the extinction of the dinosaurs. I used three primary colours because of the name (rainbow), and used animals and plants present at that time. The little furry fellow hiding behind the 'r' is a primitive platypus-like mammal, who survived the approaching event. I know....the meteor would be much larger, and more yellow than red, but artistic licence operates here! :-)

Three colour linocut, yellow and blue on one block, the red on a small stamp, using Daniel Smith WC inks, and printed on bleached mulberry, edition 4 variable (two with blue, two with black)

About the Printmaker
I have been involved in printmaking off and on for the last thirty years, experimenting wih several different intaglio and relief methods. I find it a nice complement to my other consuming interest, photography. I first learned the technical background of photography in the lab where I worked as a technician, and both photography and printmaking appeal to that love of precise expression and interpretation. This project appealed particularly to my science backgound, and I have enjoyed the experience thoroughly!


by Lynn A. MacIntyre

see also: Nobelium

Symbol: Ir
Atomic number: 77
Atomic weight: 192.217