Polymer Photogravure : A Step-by-Step Manual, Highlighting Artists and Their Creative Practice book cover
1st Edition

Polymer Photogravure
A Step-by-Step Manual, Highlighting Artists and Their Creative Practice

ISBN 9780815366010
Published December 13, 2018 by Routledge
310 Pages

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USD $170.00

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Book Description

Polymer Photogravure: A Step-by-Step Manual Highlighting Artists and Their Creative Practice is a three-part book on the non-toxic process of making ink-on-paper intaglio prints from continuous-tone photographs using water-etched photopolymer plates.

Author Clay Harmon provides clear and easy to understand instructions that will enable anyone to successfully make a photogravure print. By quantifying the sensitometric behavior of polymer plates, Harmon has developed a methodical approach which will enable a new printmaker to produce plates in their own studio with a minimum of time and wasted materials.

Section One provides a straightforward guide to setting up the polymer photogravure studio. Section Two covers a step-by-step method of making the print from start to finish. Section Three showcases contemporary artists’ works, illustrating the variety and artistic breadth of contemporary polymer intaglio printmaking. The works in these pages range from monochrome to full color, and represent a variety of genres, including still lifes, portraits, nudes, landscapes, urban-scapes and more. Featuring over 30 artists and 200 full-color images, Polymer Photogravure is a most comprehensive overview of this printmaking process in print.

Key topics covered include:

  • Studio safety
  • Equipment and supplies, evaluated from both a cost and utility point of view
  • A brief discussion of the types of ink-based printing
  • Aquatint screen considerations
  • Image preparation and positive printing on inkjet printers
  • Paper preparation
  • A simple and efficient polymer plate calibration process that minimizes wasted time and materials
  • A straightforward inking, wiping and printing method
  • Advanced printing techniques such as chine collé, à la poupée, and printing on wood
  • Troubleshooting guide to platemaking and printing problems
  • Tips on editioning and portfolios
  • A visual survey of the range of artistic expression practiced by contemporary artists
  • Sources for supplies and recommended reading

Polymer photogravure plates enable an artist to use an almost-infinite range of image color and papers to make a print. The finished prints are extremely archival, consisting of only ink and paper. With Harmon’s instructions, continuous tone intaglio prints are within the reach of all.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Introduction

Section One – The Polymer Photogravure Studio

Chapter 2 -The Physical Studio – Materials and Equipment

Chapter 3 - Digital Studio - The Virtual Workspace

Section Two – The Process of Polymer Photogravure

Chapter 4 - Making a Photogravure Print

Chapter 5 - Making a Polymer Photogravure Plate

Chapter 6 - Photogravure - Additional Techniques

Chapter 7 – Troubleshooting

Chapter 8 – Printing Portfolios and Editions

Section Three – Current Practitioners of Polymer Photogravure

Chapter 9 - Contemporary Polymer Photogravure Artists

Bibliography and References

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Clay Harmon’s photographic work combines contemporary subject matter with historic photographic techniques. His interest is in the push/pull between the beautiful and the ugly often found in the urban landscape. Harmon’s work has shown nationally and internationally in over thirty shows and ten publications. He teaches workshops nationally in polymer photogravure and other historic photographic printing processes. To see his work, visit clayharmon.com.


Harmon's book is the most comprehensive book to date on photopolymer gravure, delivering a wealth of information in an easygoing, clear manner. The work and essays by current practitioners is a real bonus. This book is a must-read for those already practicing photopolymer gravure and those new to the process.

Mark I. Nelson, Photographer specializing in photopolymer gravure, platinum/palladium processes, and digital negatives