Friday, July 15, 2011

Photography to Gravure

This group exhibition featured four photographers; Diane Alire, Karl Koenig, Rob Thalmann, and Jorge Tristani, who work in media ranging from silver gelatin photography to gumoil to gravure. This show included images in photography and their translation in gravure.

Diane and Jorge

Diane and Rob

At each opening we give a demonstration on one of the printmaking processes. Here is Diane Alire prepping for her demo.

In gravure, an image is generated by exposing a photo positive or transparency to a photo polymer plate via a high powered light. Artists need to do extensive testing to determine the exact exposing time for each image. The exposed plate is developed in water and can be printed almost immediately. Today, transparencies are computer generated and printed on inkjet printers which replace the large scale negatives used originally when the process was developed in the 19th century.

Diane’s image is created out two plates, one is the positive, the other is the negative of the same image. The positive will be printed in purple, the negative in yellow ochre. The printing is done as follows: First the plates are coved completely in ink using a brayer. The excess ink is removed using first a tarlatan (a very stiff cheese cloth) and then newsprint. The plates are ready for printing if only the recessed areas of the plate contain ink.

Diane first prints the negative plate. She places the plate on the press bed and places a sheet of Hahnemuhle printing paper on top of it. When she runs them trough the press, the ink is transferred to the paper.

After printing the first plate, Diane returns to ink the second or positive plate in purple. Here it is inked up and ready to go!

In order to print the second plate she places it upside down on top of the paper she just printed – this way she is very sure of her registration. The polymer plates are so thin that there is no loss of detail if the plate is printed upside down. Diane now runs the second plate through the press.

And – voila – we have a finished print.

If she was to create more impressions of this image she would have repeat the inking and printing process – these kind of old-fashioned printmaking processes are completely hand-made.

We had a good turnout for this show!

Thank you to all our volunteers and staff for your help. Jeff Simpson, photography!


Mary Sunstrom and Elena Betke-Brunswick

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