good book on copper gravure
Got a book Mark Nelson on the alt-photo-process list recommended on copper gravure. It seems like a really good book and has a great section on intaglio printmaking that is worth the cost of the book alone, in my opinion. It also has a section on many printmaking papers, their level of sizing, and recommended soaking times I found useful.
It has me even more convinced not to do this process, however. Working with acids and dichromates, the extra equipment needed (e.g. metal platecutter, rosin dusting chamber), and all the critical steps....ugh. Yes, I'm sure there are makeshift solutions to having proper equipment out there, but it's still a ton of time and work and exposure to toxins to learn to do it right. No thanks.
Continuing to refine my custom process and workflow for polymer plates seems like a better way to go for me, even though I don't think polymer will ever be quite the same as copper due to the multi-layered depth you can get with etching copper. At first glance good copper and polymer plate prints look pretty similar to the untrained eye, but keen differences and subtleties soon leap out. Kind of like listening to a $2,000 stereo and comparing it to a $100,000 stereo system -- the extra set of nuances that make all the difference in the world are extremely costly when trying to achieve that last 10% of quality.
Regardless, what I've found is that getting good intaglio prints has at least 50% to do with good intaglio printmaking techniques and getting that right. The custom aquatint screens and curves I've been refining for optimal tonality with polymer are working great for me and my customers, but are no substitute for knowing how to print intaglio well -- which is a hard-won and critical skill in and of itself, regardless of the type of plate used.
Copper Plate Photogravure: Demystifying the Process: