Calendering the Paper

Our last post about the top 2023’s Best 5 Printmaking Tips as concerned paper calendering prompted alot of questions on our website! So, I thought I should elaborate a little on the practice and value of calendering paper here at Intaglio Editions Fine Art Prints!

The verb ‘calender’ comes from the root word ‘cylinder’, which is what is used to make paper flat. In our case, we use the steel-faced drum of an intaglio printing press! All paper is calendered to a certain degree of flatness from the paper mill.

Calendaring paper with Jon Lybrook of Intaglio Editions.

Calendaring paper with Jon Lybrook of Intaglio Editions.

However heavy-weight art papers often have added texture to their surface. Hahnemule Copperplate 300 g/sm is one such paper. Such texture can add noise in the continuous tones of photogravure prints, so we stretch and press the paper even flatter to address this.

At Intaglio Editions, we soak paper for at least an hour. We then blot the paper between towels, and use a drafting brush to remove any particles or hairs that may have gotten transferred to the paper.  The paper is then laid printable side down on the press bed against a smooth plexiglass, and covered with two similar sheets of heavy-weight paper.  Paper is run through the press at least 2 times at hand-tight pressure.  We then remove the paper and cover sheets, wipe down the bed, and register the plate. The plate is typically printed at slightly less than hand-tight pressure on the press bed.

Some finer papers, such as quality Japanese gampi, will not be made any smoother through calendering. These papers should be ‘ready to go’ straight from the vendor with no calendering needed.

When printing photogravure quality plates, also be sure to use 2-4 backing sheets to help ensure the pattern from your blankets doesn’t interfere with your continuous tones.  Also remember to use pressed wool blankets – never woven – as these can leave a more noticeable pattern in continuous tone areas of the print).

Check out this excellent demo video on calendering paper on an intaglio press by Jeffrey Dell.

5 BEST Intaglio Printmaking Tips of 2023 from Intaglio Editions

As we close down another year, it’s a good time to pause and examined what we’ve learned. Over the years we have come up with some effective ways to increase print quality and efficiency when printing steel-backed, polymer photogravure plates. Here are the Top 5 tips we use all the time when printing your Intaglio Editions polymer plate:

Jon Lybrook at Nils Borch Jensen Studios in 2018 in front of a large Keith Haring print.

Jon Lybrook at Nils Borch Jensen Studios in 2018 in front of a large Keith Haring print.

  1. Use heating pads available from drug stores to warm your plate before applying ink. The same pads can be placed under the glass ink slab. Heating the ink makes it looser and allows it to flow into the pits of the plate better, providing better density and richness. This is especially vital in winter months.
  2. Some projects go on longer than the ink can stay fresh. Weigh your ink when mixing combinations of modifiers and inks to ensure a consistent mixture every time.
  3. Always calender your paper before printing photogravure! This pre-stretches the paper, and allows for more consistent results. It is also necessary when printing multiple plates on the same sheet to prevent overlap.
  4. To secure registration of your plate, lick a clean finger.  Now put three dots of spit from your finger to the middle of the back of the plate. Moisture behind the plate helps prevent the plate from pivoting or sliding during the printing.
  5. Clean your plates using a gentle solvent, like SoySolv2 after use, but avoid over-cleaning or scrubbing polymer photogravure plates.  Cleaning plates too often or roughly will lead to an early loss of fidelity.

Questions?  Contact us for a free consultation!

Jon Lybrook - Printmaker and Publisher, Intaglio Editions LLC

Jon Lybrook – Printmaker and Publisher, Intaglio Editions LLC

What is an Open Edition vs. Limited Edition in Fine Art Prints?

Here’s a good teaching opportunity to our readers who are currently, or want to be, more knowledgeable art collectors.  For those who either already are, or are interested in becoming art collectors of Tony Levin’s work, we just officially released an authorized collection of five open edition inkjet prints.  These vintage photographs of Peter Gabriel are mostly from tours which took place during the 1980s. They are, without question, among some of the most iconic photos taken of Peter, and of that era in rock music.
This historic print project started in 2016 when Jon Lybrook, Lead Printmaker at Intaglio Editions, approached Tony about doing a fine art photogravure collection of his and his fans’ favorite prints from his illustrious, 50-plus year career on stage. The project evolved into two collections so far, Tony’s King Crimson Limited Edition Photogravure Collection, and his newest open edition inkjet Collection of Peter Gabriel vintage photos.
We will be producing and selling these signed, open edition, fine art prints until the end of the Peter Gabriel I/O tour in the fall of 2023, at least. After that, who knows if we’ll continue to edition them? We will likely move on to publishing newer work of Tony’s, which would be party funded by these print sales.
For new art collectors who may be interested: Open Edition prints, such as this special Peter Gabriel Vintage Photo collection, aren’t tied to a commitment to a certain number of prints. How many signed prints go out into the world may be hundreds, or thousands, or more! We’ll continue to make them as they sell, until we decide to stop. This is unlike Limited Edition runs, in which the artist and publisher commit to a specific maximum number of prints that can be made.
Have you decided on your favorite Peter Gabriel prints? Be sure to post a photo of you with your Tony Levin print and hashtag #tonylevin and #tonylevinprints ! Peter Gabriel’s I/O World Tour will run through October 2023 with a break in July and August, so Tony can sign more prints with us!  
Get all the up-to-date photos and news from Tony’s Road Diary — one of the the longest-maintained blogs on the internet!

Artist Tony Levin on his music and photography

Excellent interview with Tony Levin, hot off the road from his recent Stick Men tour, and getting ready to embark on a month of touring Europe and England with Peter Gabriel. At 1:07 he discusses his vintage photographs of Peter Gabriel, which are now available as heavy-weight inkjet prints at

Modern Musicology’s YouTube Channel:

Find more about Modern Musicology team members:
Rob Levy:
Stephanie Seymour:
R. Alan Siler:
Anthony Williams:

King Crimson Photogravure prints by Tony Levin featured at Haggin Museum exhibition

The legendary Tony Levin shows his limited edition King Crimson intaglio print collection at the Haggin Museum on Feb. 16, 2023. Learn More about this high-quality print collection here:

Unboxing New Intaglio Proofs with Artist Jerry LoFaro

Jerry is one of our favorite artists to work with, and in this video you’ll see why. His talents behind the camera and the computer are only exceeded by his capacity for telling bad jokes and cringe-worthy puns in front of it! Photography and videography by Kathleen LoFaro.

“Some of the design details from the late 1950s cars were pretty crazy – they where like chrome & plastic sculptures from a bizarro, futuristic world! However, I think the tail lights of the 1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville were the most amazing, especially for it’s Mohawk topped, humanoid expression of surprise.

 I first encountered this Ford truck on a neighbor’s property in 1997, shortly after we purchased our home just up the road from them. I thought it was pretty cool, but it somehow didn’t even occur to me to photograph it at the time. However, when the rusty bug finally bit me all these years later, I went out on a hot spring day in 2018 to find it still quietly tucked away, though much further out in the woods than I remembered.

I’ve photographed this beautiful barge of a car abandoned in the woods a few times, but “Panic on Main Street” is the first time I encountered a restored vintage model at a car show. I got to the huge Elm Street Classic Car Cruise in Manchester, NH late that September day, and as it was winding down I saw this car getting ready to drive off from it’s spot. I quickly asked the owner if I could take a few shots before he did, and I went right to the back and laid down on the hot pavement to capture this!

Jerry LoFaro holding the first intaglio proof of "Panic on Main Street" 2022

Jerry LoFaro holding the first intaglio proof of “Panic on Main Street” 2022

Learn more about Jerry’s special edition prints here:

How all Photogravure Prints are made up of Stardust (and inkjet prints too)

While musical icon Joni Mitchell declared over 50 years ago that we were all  stardust, traditional, photogravure prints had been employing the same star-like patterns we can see in the sky today to render photographs on paper for about 100 years. Halftone dots were introduced around the same time and were easier to make photographic prints from, but random dots were and are more artful – containing a superior richness with more subtle tonal gradations.
Andromeda Galaxy by Hubble Space Telescope

Detail of the Andromeda Galaxy taken by Hubble. Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and L.C. Johnson (University of Washington), the PHAT team, and R. Gendler

Thanks to the trusty Hubble Space Telescope (now with support from the amazing new Webb telescope) we can now see so much more about what makes up our universe.
These star patterns of the Andromeda Galaxy (below left), have patterns very similar to that of aquatint screens (below right), or dust patterns used in traditional photogravure prints on copper plate. These are called stochastic patterns.
Star Pattern
Aquatint Screen

Left: Detail of the Andromeda Galaxy taken by Hubble. Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and L.C. Johnson (University of Washington), the PHAT team, and R. Gendler

Right: Early prototype of Intaglio Editions’ custom aquatint screen scanned from an 1800 dpi stochastic pattern printed on film by an imagesetter.

Essentially any kind of repeating dot pattern will hold ink, but there is something satisfying about these random dots, which are so fine, that under close inspection, you can’t see dots, so much as tones.

Stochastic patterns can be found in nature, and as a byproduct of man-made technology, such as analog reception static in a TV monitor, or even in computer encryption.

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Summer Print Sale May 15-31

Check out our Printer’s Proof Summer Sale

May 15-31, 2022!

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Introducing our Historic Handmade Art Reimagined Series!