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Gravure

Gravure is a print process involving a copper plate coated with a light-sensitive gelatine tissue which had been exposed to a film positive, and then etched, resulting in a high quality intaglio print that can reproduce detail. In 1900 the printing industry adapted the process developed to replicate patterned fabric in the 1890’s to mechanise the screen printing of designs on fabric. Such a machine was a rotary one, with the image etched on the surface of a revolving cylinder. The dyes utilized by the fabric industry were held on the cylinder by a cross line screen. The printing industry adapted this replication process utilizing coloured inks held by a honey-combed fine gauze. This is evidenced by a honey-combed pattern on the surface of the print that can be seen with a magnifying glass. Artists have adapted this process to a flat copper plate with such a screen adapted for printing on the hand press. In the early part of the 20th century many superb prints were produced, especially favouted by the like of Children illustrators, Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, Ida Retoul Outhwaite and May Gibbs to name a few.  Due to the glossy paper required to achieve the desired marbled effect emulating the artists’ original watercolour process, they were often tipped onto an embossed quality paper housing. In many cases this was done manually and added to the quality of the work while satisfying customers’ prejudices for past printing techniques.

 


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