Photopolymer Etching is an exciting process;
it allows for the production of extremely rich, yet subtly tonal images.
It is the synthesis of an old technique and relatively new technology (in the grand scheme of things); it emulates a victorian era printmaking process, without the toxicity of it- and tightly renders details within a tolerance range that is exceptional.
The plates themselves are made of a photo-responsive polymer that breaks down in water. Because this polymer hardens with exposure to light of a specific bandwidth, and becomes resistant to water, they can be treated with a film positive in order to create a recessed image. You expose a drawing or inkjet film to the plate, wash away what is still soft, and you have a plate which can be smeared with ink and wiped in the intaglio technique.
(A plate from a drawing produced in graphite on mylar, processed and ready for wiping.)
(Plate and first finished proof)
Soft, supple graytones and velvety blacks come out of these plates in a surprising range of valuescales, and they are best suited to render and reproduce original drawings on film.
(The finished proof)
Because of the specialized equipment and techniques required for plate production, and the slow, arduous, and labor intensive printing process, this technique is not inexpensive and so is usually reserved for special short run projects which have a budget allocated to afford these aspects. It isn't often the choice for multi-color jobs due to expense- we also prefer to practice it for grayscale or monochromatic works- but it does allow for some exciting possibilities in both arenas and is great for a variety of jobs.
The technique also requires proper setup- films need to be handled carefully and drawn with a mind for the photographic process, hopefully on a light table of some sort, and a specific type and grade of mylar works better than others for hand drafting.
(A drawing on Mylar, produced on a light table, ready to be transferred to a plate)
However, we're confident we can help you produce a worthy image for your next edition if you choose to contract us to produce it for you in this process. Contact us for pricing and quotes, as due to the extremely customized nature of this process, we need to review your requests and generate a price based upon your needs.
Drew Friedman's 'Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental' - A Polymer Etching produced by Haven Press for Scott Eder Gallery, Publisher of fine prints.
(Two shots of the plate)
(The finished prints)