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Direct-to-Plate Photopolymer Gravure with Don Messec

July 25, 2022 - July 29, 2022


DTP (Direct-to-Plate) produces gravure quality plates to print without the need of a vacuum frame, transparency films, screens or carbon tissue, not even baths of chemicals like multiple baths of Ferric Chloride – just water. There is no longer the need to go through the laborious process of masking, etching, etching again and again, deoxidation of a metal plate – rinse, repeat. And because digital imaging can be exploited to create content, anything can end up in a plate: drawing, photos, text, collage elements – anything you can get into a digital file can become part of your work.

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 making process to the art-making process with more energy and excitement to dedicate to interpreting your prints. If desired by class I will add an explanation and demonstration on making film positives which can be the simplest way to add most any printer plus other plates to photopolymer gravure.

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.

What’s Included

Plates sizes for the workshop are 8×10″, the later size matches the 2/3 ratio of most digital camera sensors. Squares of 8×8″ can be cut from 8×10″. Your fees include 5 plates in any combination of 8×10”. The studio includes printing presses, printing inks and etching paper, a few computers for studio use 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 11×15”

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

  • Monday morning begins with students arriving at the studio between 9:30-10 AM.
  • Daily instruction is 10 AM to 4 PM with the studio open to students between 9:30 AM and 7 PM. Exception is Friday when the workshop ends at 4 PM.
  • Bring a lunch everyday except Tuesday when we go out Dutch for a late lunch. COVID dependent.
  • If opportunity and conditions collide we may get to add a photo excursion.


July 25, 2022
July 29, 2022


Making Art Safely
7506 A Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87505 United States
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