THE WORK OF EDWARD CURTIS

HELIOS

What is a Photogravure?

Photogravure-plate-of-Geronimo

Paul Unks, of Denver, nicknamed Mountain Hawk, explains the craft of printing photogravures: “Developed in the 1850’s, an intaglio photogravure is produced through a complex painstaking hand-made process whereby the original photographic image is etched into a metal plate allowing the plate to hold ink. Then, oil based ink is carefully applied by hand onto the etched plate so that the ink is pushed down into the etched grooves of the plate that range in depth from deep (dark) to shallow (light). Once the printing plate is properly inked, high quality moistened paper is placed on the inked plate and then hand cranked in a press at 10,000 lbs of pressure causing the paper to squeeze down into the grooves of the plate. After the paper fibers have absorbed the ink, the paper is carefully peeled off the plate leaving the image deeply embossed into the paper…

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