Intaglio printing

October 4, 2008

A few months ago I met David Noble of Noble Fine Art at Focus on Imaging. Impressed by the beauty of the work he produces – which stood out among the often nonsensical gadgetry on offer around – and by his obvious enthusiasm for his craft I opted to commission him to produce a photogravure of one of my photos. After much internal debate, I chose the selected image, mailed it over to him and sat back with bated breath. I decided to leave as much of the creative decision making to him as possible from this point on to see what the potential of the medium might be in the hands of a master.

Several weeks later when I carefully opened the large flat package which had arrived I was greeted by the sight of two enormous pieces of gorgeous mould-made paper, each bearing a copy of the image in a different hue of ink. My initial reaction was to feel that the photogravures were slightly heavy, over-printed even. However, as I tend to do with my own prints, I put them away and have revisited them periodically over the last few weeks. My decision to let David print without interference from me was a good one! I thrill to see both of these prints now. They have a tonality and presence beyond anything I have seen photographically apart from platinum-palladium prints. There is also an evocative, gorgeous smell of ink and holding one in the hand is a true sensory experience! I have posted below the rather poor copies of the two prints along with the digital original for comparison. It is just possible to see the impression made by the plate in the paper of the two etched versions.

My experiment in all this was to discover if it was feasible to make a good, enlarged intaglio print from a pinhole photograph. The original photo was made on 4×5 HP5+ printed to 8×10 and then scanned as a tif to the final size for the making of the plate. The final photogravure measures 11"x14”. The whole enterprise has been eye-opening and extremely encouraging and is definitely an avenue I intend to pursue.

Red tint photogravure

Red ink on warm-tone paper

Brown tint photogravure

Brown ink on neutral paper

Original image


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