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    Photogravure etchings at www.kamprint.com and http://kamprint.com/xpress/

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    Photogravure etchings at http://kamprint.com/ & http://kamprint.com/xpress/

    Photogravure etchings at http://kamprint.com/ & http://kamprint.com/xpress/

End of an Era of Industrial Carbon Tissue Production

Further update, March 2011: Updates to the original Post of August 2009 are now arranged in most recent order first.

Jennifer Page at Cape Fear Press reports on a workshop with Unai San Martin, using the new Phoenix resist tissue. Unai reports that the Phoenix tissue curls less than the old Autotype tissue, which should help especially with sensitizing large sheets. He says the sensitizing takes two minutes at 11 degrees C. This is a shorter time and a lower temperature than I’ve been accustomed to. Why not sensitize at room temperature, 20 degrees C.? Another useful property is that, according to Unai, etching starts in higher-Baumé solutions, even as high as 45-Baumé. This should be very helpful in getting a full gradation of tones. The Phoenix Gravure Pigment Paper can be ordered from Cape Fear Press here. Jennifer says they are planning another workshop this summer (2011); contact for more info.

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One year later, August 2010: Bostick & Sullivan is engaged in commercial production of resist tissue. Unlike the former Autotype product, the backing material is not water-permeable. It must therefore be dried emulsion-side up, but this is not a problem since it lies flat. Tests by several photogravure practitioners have produced successful results. At the Bostick & Sullivan website 12 square feet of Gravure Tissue with Venetian Red pigment is priced at $39, and 24 square feet at $72. The product may be ordered on-line or by telephone to 877-817-4320 (toll-free in the U.S.) or 505-474-0890.

For those who prefer a resist tissue like the old Autotype product, Prabhat Jhawar, the former Autotype dealer in India, supplies a material which he says is one hundred percent the same. It is sold in rolls 124 cm wide by 20 meters long, priced at $USD 600/roll, or $USD 24.19 per square meter. Prabhat may be contacted at prabhatjhawar@hotmail.com and on mobile telephone 00 91 98300 13700.

Nichiyaku Co. in Japan also supplies resist tissue (carbon tissue) similar to the former Autotype product, for about $USD 550 per one-meter-wide 20-meter roll (at the exchange rate in effect August 2010). Purchasers outside Japan may contact Morris Ohfuku at morris.ahaus@osakalc.co.jp, tel Int + 616-6975-5600. Purchasers in Japan may contact Mr Yoshida at yoshida@nichiyaku.co.jp, tel 06-6975-5600. The company’s address is: Oh-Nichiyaku Co.: 4-14-2, Nakamichi, Higashinari-Ku, Osaka 537-0025 Japan; 株式会社オー・ニチヤク, 〒537-0025 大阪市東成区中道4丁目14番2号.

Jennifer Page at Cape Fear Press reports that they now supply photogravure resist tissue (pigment paper) from Phoenix Gravure in a 1.24 x 20 meter roll. Processing and sensitization are said to be identical to Autotype with contrast between the former G25 and G35 Autotype versions. A roll costs $USD 680.00 plus shipping and handling. Orders may be made on-line via the above URL or by phone from 10 am to 6 pm US EST at 1-910-458-4647.

Photogravure practitioners and printing companies will welcome these new suppliers of resist tissue. Despite the withdrawal of Autotype, Hanfstaengel, and McGraw from the scene, there is still a healthy market for this material. Further experimentation will likely lead to improvements in this etching resist, with even greater depth and range of expression. Detailed usage instructions are here.

For photogravure practitioners who are not working with industrial, educational, or contract-production quantities, home-made resist tissue may be a practical alternative. Experiments, thanks to Lothar Osterburg, demonstrated that it is easier than expected, and that the unevenness of the coating is not a problem.

The Conjurer

The Conjurer

Following Sandy King’s formula of 80 grams of gelatin, 50 grams of sugar, 15 grams of carmine red pigment, and 50 ml of isopropyl alcohol in one liter of distilled water, and pouring this while warm on a piece of used Autotype backing paper worked well. Fixed-out film or photo paper could also be used as the backing material. A warm metal cylinder passed lightly over the poured mixture, which is enclosed between masking tape or magnetic strips, is all that is needed to even it out. The Conjurer is the first result of my experiment with home-made resist tissue. There will be more.

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August 2009: The last remaining manufacturer of carbon tissue, used in photogravure etching, announced it is stopping

Resist tissue

production after more than 100 years of manufacture. Carbon tissue is sensitized and exposed to ultraviolet light to form a resist. Adhered to the copperplate, it controls how deeply the plate is etched, and thus the light and dark of the impressed print, as explained here. According to the manufacturer’s announcement, ‘It is with sadness that after 100 years of supply, MacDermid Autotype is now forced to discontinue the manufacture of Gravure Pigment Papers.’ Hanfstaengl and McGraw had previously stopped making gravure products. The most likely cause of the demise of industrial carbon tissue manufacture is actually the decline of photo film. This has dissipated knowledge of industrial coatings and knowhow related to the operation and maintenance of production equipment.

Since gravure products represent five percent of Autotype’s business, very likely other companies will start manufacturing carbon tissue. Bostick & Sullivan, for example, already has expertise in this area, and with the support of many artisanal customers, is now considering the manufacture of carbon tissue (resist tissue). It’s also possible to make it oneself; I will experiment with this before my supplies are all used up.

It may be the beginning rather than the end of an era. Real photogravure etchings may become even more rare than they are now, but when all the dust has settled, new artistic possibilities may very well emerge.

Printed from: http://www.kamprint.com/views/?p=116 .
© Peter Miller 2017.