U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: varnishes

Re: varnishes

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the post.  It got me curious, so I googled and found the following info:

"The photogravures in Photographs of Mexico were printed by The New York Photogravure and Color Company of NYC in an edition of 250 copies. A heavy Damar varnish was applied over the images, which in most cases has since darkened. In 1967, Strand reissued the work as The Mexican Portfolio, in a larger edition printed by Andersen Lamb Company, of Brooklyn, and with a varnish that has not yellowed. Both editions were printed by the most skilled gravure pressmen of the time, producing flawless photogravures that are rich and extremely detailed. "

Cited here:  http://www.photogravure.com/key_examples/keyworks_mexico.html

Damar varnish is also referred to as Dammar gum, as it turns out:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dammar and was typically used to varnish oil paintings.

Seems like overkill to varnish a photogravure though.   Oil based ink on cotton rag or alpha cellulose paper is essentially pH neutral anyway, isn't it?   So I'd never varnish a photogravure for protection. 

If I wanted to impose a texture, I'd chin colle and if I wanted a glossy finish, I wouldn't do a photogravure. 

For richer blacks I've been having great luck with the slightly thicker KM83 polymer plates to get a deeper etch and omitting modifiers to the ink.


ender100 wrote:
CB2A6F63.111B.4505.9D87.02432FFA3AC4@aol.com" type="cite">Judy,

Speaking of varnishes, I was out in San Francisco teaching and a friend showed me a boxed set of Paul Strand photogravures—the Mexican Collection.  This set was a second printing done around 1960 from the original plates and is considered the best.  Beautiful photogravures.  They were also varnished with a clear varnish.  It really gave them that "wet look" with deep blacks.  I don't know if any of the list members might know of a varnish that is commonly used with photogravures?  The varnish extended just beyond the image area into the plate mark.  I am guessing it might have even been sprayed on.  It was very even.

Any thoughts out there?

Jon Lybrook
Intaglio Editions