Printing the Crown Point Press Way

I’ve come down with something and am mostly staying warm and catching up on reading.

Jon Lybrook mentioned in passing that Crown Point Press was having a sale, and that he really loved their books. I have to say, if it wasn’t for Jon’s whole-hearted recommendation I would, as a rule, pass up books whose titles start with Magical Secrets About… I went to the web site and on his recommendation bought the three book set. In for a penny, in for a pound. Had I not bought the books, I would have been the poorer for it.

In my search for texts on polymer photogravure I have cast far and wide. There are a few texts on copper plate photogravure of note which I may speak of in the future. But I noticed in my searches that there were some texts for etching that were very relevant in describing technique that could be applied to photogravure.
Magical Secrets about Line Etching and Engraving: The Step-by-Step Art of Incised Lines, by Catherine Brooks is perhaps the most relevant of the three to photogravure. As of today it is on sale from their web site for $46.80 – and it’s a steal for that price. The hidden gem inside, that immediately distracted me from Brooks’s excellent text up front, is the appendix by Kathan Brown describing the Crown Point Press Way of Printing. Brown, the founder of Crown Point Press in 1962, expounds the view that the artist expresses themselves in the plate, while the printer is responsible for printing the plate consistently. This philosophy is well-matched to photogravure where the making of the plate is the fundamental expression of the image.
That said, I have repeatedly read that the inking of the plate itself is a craft, and it is here where Brown’s appendix really gets going. Brown crisply and practically describes how to do that in a repeatable, straightforward fashion.
But that’s not all folks, if you order today – oh, sorry, was getting carried away.
Tucked into the front cover of the book is a DVD that includes a 46 minute video of Brown demonstrating the techniques described in the appendix. What an eye opener it is. I have to say, I had no idea what it was supposed to look like when you wiped a plate. Brown demonstrates wiping a copper plate – I have no idea what the practical difference is when wiping a polymer plate. That said, I’ve paused making my (hopefully last) calibration plate as I review the video and re-read the appendix to try her inking and wiping method. The Magical Secrets web site has additional tips and information.
I bought barrier cream to keep the ink from under my nails (and promises softer hands to boot) and chalk dust for that final hand wipe as Brown suggests. I have a hot plate to warm my Toyobo KM73 plate when inking. I’m poised to try this method.
A hand wiped plate is considered to be the apogee of the printer’s art, and involves leaving plate tone (tone in the highlights) that is removed during other wiping approaches. Lybrook I believe mentions that some of the pigments in inks should be considered toxic, so hand wiping the Crown Point Press way is not without its challenge.
In for a penny, in for a pound as I often say.

One Comment

  1. Crown Point
    Posted Monday, June 29, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the good words about Crown Point's books and about my printing essay in particular. We have a photogravure book in the works, and there will be some attention to polymer plates. But, check out the Susan Middleton artist talking section of (and also the examples of her work) to see copperplate photogravure by a serious photographer. Does it look a lot better than polymer to you? I'd really like to know what you think. You can email me–also with questions about wiping. By the way, I wouldn't worry about ink being toxic. If you are, the barrier cream should protect you. Don't use too much. Best wishes, Kathan Brown

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Kathan Brown left a comment on my brief accolade-filled review of Crown Point Press books on etching. She mentioned they are coming out with a book on […]

  2. […] place on an inclined plastic sheet to drain off excess water. This is best done the night before. Crown Point Press books describe dampening paper for etching also. The plates themselves are trimmed to a 5mm border all […]

  3. […] wanted to remind readers that some Crown Point Press Magical Secret books include a DVD on inking and printing the plate (along with an appendix describing the process in text). The DVD […]

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