About the Element
Hafnium was identified in Zircon in 1932 by D. Coster and G. von Hevesey by means of X-ray spectroscope analysis. It was named in honor of the city in which its discovery was made. Most zirconium minerals contain 1 to 5 percent hafnium.
Hafnium is a ductile metal with a brilliant silver luster. Because the element not only has a good absorption cross section for thermal neutrons, but also excellent mechanical properties and is extremely corrosion-resistant, hafnium is used for reactor control rods. Such rods are used in nuclear submarines. It is also used in gas-filled and incandescent lamps, and is an efficient scavenger for oxygen and nitrogen.

About the Print
I wanted my print to reflect the use of hafnium in nuclear reactor control rods. Therefore I produced a monoprint with a matrix mimicking the lattice these rods would occupy. The monoprint plate was made by letting modeling paste harden on a piece of vellum. Then I rolled oil paint on the plate and ran it through my printing press, choosing black BFK Rives paper. I collaged the symbol Hf on the print in lustrous silver, illustrating the metal's finish. The collage of the number 72 shows a view of the rods from the top looking down (part of another monoprint). I included the insect because I remembered hearing that the only survivor of a nuclear holocaust would be an insect.

About the Printmaker
The project fascinated me because I majored in chemistry at college, graduating from Boston University in 1968 summa cum laude, phi beta kappa. My true love, however, was making art and in recent years this has evolved from oil painting to printmaking and collage.


by Miriam Gilman

Symbol: Hf
Atomic number: 72
Atomic weight: 178.49