Springtime in the Rockies! That means insulation time at Intaglio Editions. Our press space will be undergoing some work in order to better protect the work we are starting to do with our new print publishing venture. See http://prints.intaglioeditions.com to stay up to date and we’ll see you after the ice thaws sometime after May 1st!
A new documentary film by Vaun Raymond was released in Seattle in February commemorating Edward S. Curtis’ 150th birthday. The film is rich in history and imagery and highly researched with many interviews and first-hand accounts by members of the Curtis family descendants, and the indigenous people Curtis photographed. Watch the entire 90 minute film below.
To learn more visit the filmmaker’s website at https://www.curtisinseattle.org.
You can learn more about the Curtis family’s Descendants Project here: https://www.curtislegacyfoundation.org/descendants-project1/about-the-project
Recent work with photographer Larry D. Hayden kept us hopping for a few days in August head. Here’s a little video excerpt showing off Larry’s evocative work and how we printed it.
I am an artist in Edinburgh, UK and a member of Edinburgh Printmakers. My practice includes filmmaking, photography and printmaking.
For the past 18 months I have been exploring the potential of photopolymer in relation to my film work and photography. I have followed your videos and blogs assiduously and found them very helpful. Generally I have been reasonably successful in producing a series of A3 photopolymer prints but just lately I have been plagued by scratches which as you might expect are often in critical areas and are very dispiriting.
These are dark scratches in the prints but correspond to visible scratches on the plate when examined carefully. I have gone carefully through all the stages in making the plate to try and eliminate the potential for scratches. I do use a communal workshop so it can be difficult to eliminate all variables or keep a dust free environment.
I use a Boxcar brush for washout which I have had for about 14 months and use for one plate making session weekly since I bought it. I also use an antistatic brush (Kinetronics StaticWisk hand held anti-static brushes are used for cleaning lenses, films, scanners, cameras, plastics, acrylics, jewellery, glass, monitors, instruments and technical equipment on the plate before exposure to the aquatint screen and again before exposure to the image acetate to ensure that the surface of the polymer does not have dust particles that might cause dust flares.
Checking the plate after each stage of the procedure, I have noticed scratches immediately after washout and drying. I use newsprint, paper towels and a hairdryer to dry the plate. I have thought that maybe I have been using too much pressure on the Boxcar brush and today I really tried to exert just the pressure of the weight of the brush with very little extra from my hand. I use elliptical movements across the long and short lengths of the plate and then if I have time diagonally as well. I soak the plate initially for 1 minute, washout with the brush for one and half minutes and then rinse for one minute. Even today being so careful with the brush, there were again scratches visible just after washout and drying. It’s getting to be a bit disheartening.
My photopolymer plates are Toyobo KM95GR which I get from Allflexo in the Netherlands.
Do you have any suggestions as to what I might be doing wrong?
All the best,
Thanks for your email. Scratches should not be too difficult to track down. Not exerting any pressure on the brush is the way to go. I also use gentle, small, circular strokes when washing out the plate.
The plates are most susceptible to scratching during washout, of course. Unlike your approach, I do the washout for two minutes and do not soak the plate in a tray, rather I keep it on an angle, pour water over the plate a little at a time as I ‘scrub’ the plate lightly and methodically. I then give it a final rinse, blot with newsprint, then dry for 5 minutes with a hairdryer, put in my plate drier for 10 minutes, post expose for 5 minutes, then do a final round of hardening in the plate drier for 25 minutes. I’d suggest not soaking the plate and increase the washout time. Bear in mind, this may change how much exposure you need to give the plates and may cause you to have to recalibrate the times.
Feel free to send images demonstrating the scratches. The pattern in the scratches should give you an indication of when they are happening. Good luck tracking down the cause and finding a solution. Also, is it okay with you if I post your question and response on my blog? It may help another person with a similar problem one day.
There is nothing like a vacation abroad to open your eyes. Our trip to Copenhagen was no exception. The number of fine printmakers within that city rivals any other city in the world. Henrik Boergh recommended we visit here after giving us a grand tour of his studio a few miles away. Our conversation had not prepared me for the magnitude of this operation or the friendliness of the artisans running the place. It was all at once educational, joyful, and a great connection to the tradition we follow in fine, archival printmaking.
Here are some of the highlights.
Printing for continuous tone using polymer plates is not easy. Not only do you need to be an experienced printmaker to get good results, but you also need to be a plate technician – or have the good fortune of having one in-house: Someone who knows how to render nuances and shadow details from an image and make large plates, without sacrificing sharpness, detail and quality.
This video demonstrates printing with polymer photogravure plates from Intaglio Editions for superior photographic prints. View Intaglio Editions photogravure printmaking video tutorial – and others – directly on our main website.
Call Jon to talk about your fine printmaking project today at 303-818-5187.
You finally got to the point where your prints are coming out beautifully — with rich solid blacks and wide range of tones. Heaven!
There’s only one problem: The print is not flat! In fact it’s got some warping that’s pretty severe.
The good news: There is a solution to this horrible problem. The bad news: It involves more work! But don’t worry, it’s actually going to improve the quality of your prints in many ways, assuming smooth, continuous tone is important to your printmaking. These tips will allow you to ensure your prints are perfectly flat AND will have the added benefit of receiving the ink better and in a more uniform manner. This translates into more smooth, continous tone for your prints.
To avoid wavy prints with your intaglio printmaking, you can do 3 things:
1) Calendar the paper along with the grain, prior to printing. The grain is indicated by looking under raking light at magnification, or knowing which way the watermark faces with respect to the grain.
2) Make sure you’re printing with the grain of the paper, as well as calendaring it with the grain, prior to printing.
3) Flatten the prints while still damp, in between blotter and boards using this procedure
I’ve been making plates for several years for my photography work and have only recently started having a problem with those dreaded spots on the plate and subsequently the prints. In researching the problem I came across your web page and it was the ONLY place I have seen a reference to these spots. I tried you suggestion of drying the transparency and then did a small 4×5 transparency of the image on plate and it seemed okay, but then when I did an 8×10 transparency with the same process, the plate had the dots again.
Do you have any further advice about this problem with Pictorico film? Or another film that might work without the problem. It’s maddening and I’ve lost several days of work and lots of plates trying to resolve it with no luck.
I have some Sihl film I’ve never used and considering it. Anyway, any help you could offer would be very appreciated. I know Dan Welden and he says it’s a problem with Pictorico. Is there a work around?
Thanks so much,
It is much easier to be successful with smaller plates. Larger plates have a learning curve all their own since it is a larger surface area, making tight, contiguous contact with the plate more difficult.
The problem of dark spots (which become white in the print) is typically a contact problem. In some cases it can be attributed to newton rings,. In most cases it is simply a lack of contiguous contact where the film is able to go out of focus and become diffuse in places, weakening the density in the plate in those specific areas.
Newton rings can occur between the glass of the vacuum frame, and film – or between the film and the plate. I avoid newton rings on top by using Kreene plastic instead of glass in my vacuum frame.
Two other solutions to avoiding newton rings with larger plates:
1. Pictorico now makes a textured film. The texture creates small cracks where air can escape, avoiding the newton ring issue on some level.
2. The other solution is to apply baby powder finely to the plate and/or film positive prior to the second exposure to the plate. I use it sparingly, and remove as much as possible with a hake brush before putting in the vacuum frame. It does the trick.
Hope that helps. LMK if you have any further questions and best wishes for your project!
Some of the most famous and well documented photogravure prints in the world of art are now available in high-resolution digital images on The Metropolitian Museum of Art’s website free of charge:
Photogravure work by period photographers Alfred Stieglitz, Eadweard Muybridge, Josef Maria Eder and Man Ray, among others are available for viewing at various magnification levels and various licensing. Some of the licensing allows free use of the high resolution artwork for non-commercial purposes. With this kind of online service you can see the work better at your computer than in the museum (without proper access)! While no substitute for proper curatorial studies, it provides an unprecedented level of access to the Met’s collection and for that, we at Intaglio Editions give them a Tip of the Bandana.
What a fabulous service to the aging and physically handicapped scholars, printmakers, and art lovers who wish to view the work. Now they can as never before! Finally public art and performances spaces have begun to see the web as an ally, not an enemy to subscriptions and ticket sales! The advent of sports television has not hurt attendance at live sporting events one bit. Let’s hope the same can be said for the marketing of art events.
Arguably the most beautiful, challenging, and labor-intensive of the traditional photographic processes, photogravure printmaking is among the earliest, dating back to the mid-1800s. Best noted in the work of Edward S. Curtis in his epic anthropological study “The North American Indian”, which he editioned from 1907-1930, the photogravure quickly gave way to more affordable silver-gelatin printing popularized by Eastman Kodak’s Brownie camera. Prior to Kodak, artists, the church, and businesses primarily turned to printmakers who used presses to render quality images for distribution. Photogravure has come out of the long tradition of intaglio printmaking whereby artisan printmakers, working in conjunction with artists, would create an image by carving, engraving, or etching (with resists and acid) into a metal substrate, wiping oil-based ink into the grooves or pits created, and then running it through a printing press onto dampened paper.
While there are traditional printmakers still employing copper plates to make photogravures, most have moved on to use steel-backed polymer plates due to the quality, consistency, efficiency, and the more environmentally friendly nature of that approach. Polymer plates are both photosensitive and water-soluble, allowing the image to be etched into the plate using water instead of acid. The polymer plate method was introduced to the printmaking world in the 1970s by Dan Welden, a veteran artist and printmaker who discovered the fine art application of these plates, which had only recently been introduced by the semiconductor industry, where they were (and still are to some extent) used to cast molds for creating printed circuit boards.
Regardless of the technology used to create a quality plate, the true artistry and craftsmanship comes through in how the plate is printed. The type of inks and modifiers employed, the method of wiping, the level of care taken, the choice of paper, the amount of pressure given at the press, and method of drying and flattening the final print are only a few of the many variables that come together to create a high-quality, hand-printed, photogravure print. More information at http://intaglioeditions.com