Direct-To-Plate Photopolymer Gravure workshop on Vancouver Island

with Don Messec

Direct-to-Plate Photopolymer Gravure

McTavish Academy of Art, North Saanich, BC – Vancouver Island

September 17-20, 2019 

North Saanich is a lovely small town associated with Victoria If coming from off island, it is but minutes from Swartz Bay, Sidney or Victoria Ferry Terminals and even closer to Victoria International Airport (YYJ). Beautiful area with access to Saanich Inlet on one side and the San Juan Island on the other.

DTP (Direct-to-Plate) produces gravure quality plates ready to print without the need of a vacuum frame, transparency, screen or carbon tissue, not even baths of chemicals like multiple baths of Ferric Chloride – just water. With the introduction of a new Solarplate, there is now the need to go through the laborious process of laminating your own plate. For those who remember the early days with ImagOn, there are now no roller marks to worry about either.

Once learned, DTP becomes an artist-friendly process in that it is, as implied, more direct, simpler, and unimaginably quicker than classic gravure. Add the elimination of many process toxins of copper gravure it is also more life-friendly.

Using any one of many Epson inkjet printers, including X900 printers you will be able to print your image directly to the emulsion before exposure. Plus it is now possible to expose in the sun, or under fluorescent UV lights as well as point light sources to great effect. Results are far more reliable and repeatable than transparency based exposures. All that adds up to a process that is creatively dialectic by getting to the print much sooner. Getting to the print sooner gets you from the plate process to the art process with more energy and excitement about a final interpretation of your work.

There is something uniquely soulful about gravure prints. It is still a form of alchemy pressing ink into paper. And because the plate has an emulsion of photopolymers you can go beyond transferring only your photographic digital file to the plate. You can let DTP open a whole world of mark making and composition that will take your work new places, places that classic gravure never will.

Gallery of Direct to Plate prints here.

For a short history and explanation of photopolymer gravure plus additional examples please visit here.

Workshop is on! Still room for a few more.

What’s Included

Plates sizes for the workshop are 8x10” and 8x12”, the later size matches the 2/3 ratio of most digital camera sensors. Your fees include 3 Solarplates in any combination of 8x10” or 8x12.  The studio includes printing presses, printing inks and etching paper along with all the other common tools and materials for making photopolymer plates and prints.

What to Bring

  1. Source materials such as digitized drawings and digital photographs in any of the following formats – PSD, jpg, TIFF, RAW. It is important that you bring original unaltered files in addition to your processed or manipulated versions. It can be more than useful to go back to an unmodified original to re-interpret or re-work the image once you and I see it here.
  2. Digital camera if you have one. Of course you will take pictures and video! Yes, you can bring film, too. I have an arrangement for developing and scanning.
  3. Jump drive (thumb drive or other portable read/write media)
  4. Laptop which should have current versions of Photoshop or Lightroom or ON1 RAW. If you do not have any of this software please download a trial version for the workshop. We have some studio use Macs, but not enough to cover everyone’s fulltime needs.
  5. Large enough luggage or box to pack prints with stiff protector (cardboard or matt board). Paper will be torn down to approximately 11x15”

Registration includes a reasonable amount of materials and supports an extensive array of communal shop needs, costs and consumables.

That’s it! Any questions about supplies, please feel free to contact us.

Workshop Itinerary

  • Tuesday morning begins with students arriving at the studio between 9:30-10 AM.
  • Daily instruction is 10 AM to 5 PM with the studio open in accordance with McTavish Academy rules.
  • Bring a lunch everyday. There is a large full kitchen with refrigerators, and some outdoor grills. We will see if such can be a group prepared affair. Good for camaraderie.
  • Thursday night we will figure out some dinner plans and have a great time. Companion welcome.
  • If opportunity and conditions collide we may get to add a photo excursion.