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August 26th, 2009

The Death of Photogravure

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“There is a sense of panic out there…” were the words of Dick Sullivan, proprietor of Bostick-Sullivan. “Without it, photogravure in its present form will cease to exist. End of story,” were Craig Zammiello’s words. ”This is very big!!!! and harrowing!” said Jon Goodman.


What is all the fuss about? Well it appears as though Autotype, the only manufacturer of pigmented gelatin tissue, a material critical to the photogravure process, has decided to cease production… “It is with sadness that after 100 years of supply, MacDermid Autotype is now forced to discontinue the manufacture of Gravure Pigment Papers and films due to the withdrawal of two unique raw materials.”


Without this material, practicing photogravure ateliers have two choices – make their own gelatin tissue (a laborious and unpredictable prospect) or practice polymer photogravure – a distant second choice and not an option for purists.


Hopefully Richard Sullivan will come to the rescue. He is versed in manufacturing carbon tissue and is working diligently to save photogravure. Talking with him today, it appears as though he is making positive strides toward a product that might just be better than Artotype’s (thicker – allowing more depth in the etch). Too complicated for this layperson, the status of the situation can be followed on Richard’s forum, which – if you take the time to read it, illustrates just how complex this process is.


By the way, I must admit I was pleased to hear Richard, a legend in the world of alternative process, tell me that photogravure was among his top top three of all photographic processes when it comes to beauty.


24 Responses to “The Death of Photogravure”

  1. […] Amazing.  What an incredible process.  I’m ready to do more.  Alas, however, like too many photographic practices, it’s in limbo. […]

  2. Laura says:

    What is photogravure??

  3. Craig G Zammiello says:

    Laura,
    Have a look at the second button in the Top menu called “Process”. That will explain all about this wonderful process.
    Best,
    CZ

  4. michael rivera says:

    has there been any sort of update on the carbon tissue that was going away.i have always wanted to learn the process and have been reading about it for years and now do other forms of etching. i have even made the polymer photo with success however, i have had the ability to hold true photogravures from Paul Strands work and i still want to do it. i would love to become a modern practitioner of this long celebrated process.

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  12. There are two photogravure tissues available from my website. Dragon Gravure is our easiest to use tissue and is available at 20 and 40 inches wide. We also have Phoenix Gravure at 24 and 48 inches wide. Both tissues are produced on fiber based paper for easy drying and processing. http://www.capefearpress.com

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  21. Hugo says:

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    We are a European reseller of Puretch film as well as Pigment Paper from Cape Fear Press. For some reason Cape Fear Press decided to keep distrbution in their own hands. That is not a good idea for our European clients. Is there an alternative for the Cape Fear Press Pigment Papers? Please answer to info@polymetaal.nl
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