Printmaking 101: Carbogravure

"Susquahanna Sunset," a carbogravure by Nina Muys.

Carborundum intaglio or carbogravure is a method simulating aquatint (the etching process that create tonal values without cross-hatching lines) in a non-toxic way. Gesso is applied to cardboard and drawn into while still wet. The tonal values are achieved by painting carborundum dust (a fine metal grit normally used for grinding lithographic stone) mixed with high gloss acrylic paint onto a cardboard plate. Darkness of tone depends on the amount of carborundum in the paint. Dark tones are achieved by mixing straight carborundum grit into the paint until the desired concentration is reached. Light tomes have very little carborundum mixed with the glossy paint.

Nina Muys‘ inking method (shown in the print to the left) is a “a la poupee”, a printmaking method used extensively by Mary Cassatt employing one plate for all the colors in a color intaglio. to print “a la puopee”, the same plate, inked in selected areas to achieve color variation, is run through the press more than one time. a varied edition of almost unique prints is usually produced because it is virtually impossible to reproduce exactly the rich variety of effects with an edition.

The above was written with the help of WPG founding member Nina Muys. Examples of her carborundum prints can be seen in the gallery perusal bins and flatfiles.

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