Among connoisseurs who truly appreciate quality and workmanship, there are few things more sensual and engrossing
than a finely crafted book. Strong yet supple bindings, custom endpapers, hand-worked covers, even the fragranceó
so many tangible sensibilities of artisanship define the physical, intimate characteristics of each singular volume. There
is a clearly perceptible difference between a mass produced and a finely crafted book, one that is often lost in today's
world of disposable literature and digital downloads. When once again we hold this fine object of passion and skill, feel
its heft, smell its unique blend of leather and rich inks, all the reasons why they are so precious return immediately to mind.
The elegant texts for letterpress publications are printed from metal type, cast letter by letter and assembled line by line.
Once all of the type for a page has been cast and composed, it is set up on a Vandercook press. These presses, designed
for pulling proofs for newspaper, book and engraving printers, are ideal for limited edition books because of their
renowned precision. Each sheet of paper is printed by hand, and only one color ink can be applied at a time. While
laborious and time consuming, no other form of printing is as graceful and refined as handset letterpress type.
THE PLATINUM / PALLADIUM PRINT
The hand-coated platinum print is one of the most sumptuous and expressive forms of photographic imaging. A platinum
or palladium print is created by hand-coating a sheet of fine artist's paper with a precisely mixed emulsion of photosensitive
platinum and/or palladium metals. Unlike a silver gelatin photograph, where the light sensitive silver halide crystals are
suspended in a thin layer gelatin that rests on the surface of the paper, the platinum/palladium emulsion soaks into and
becomes part of the paper itself. Platinum/palladium prints provide the most expanded tonal scale of all graphic arts. Each
image radiates a gentle warmth, detail in the richest shadows, delicate whites, and an almost three-dimensional image depth.
Since they require considerably more effort and much more expensive materials, platinum and palladium images tend to be
rare and unique. They stand today as one of the most ethereal and graceful forms of photographic expression, a preferred
medium of the masters.
An historic process that melds the aesthetic of two of photography's most beautiful processes. The platinum print is sought
for its subtle and delicate rendering of the image, as well as for its being the most archival of the photographic processes.
Gum is a process that uses the finest watercolor pigments in a solution of gum Arabic to imbue the image with a unique
signature, akin to a drawing. Marrying the two processes creates a hand-crafted image with a quality unlike any other.
In making the gum-over-platinum print, the artist paints 100% rag paper with his platinum solution and hand processes
in his specially equipped studio. He then coats the finished platinum print with a gum solution formulated specifically
for the image, and processes it. This step is often repeated as the image demands. The process is demanding and exacting,
and each print takes several days to complete. The finished piece is a uniquely beautiful interpretation of the image.
An exquisite form of image making, the hand-pulled photogravure is a method so fine-and so dependent on the lifelong skill
of the committed artisan-that it constantly teeters on the edge of extinction in the modern world. Photogravures are created
by pressing a hand inked copper plate etched from a film positive onto fine artist's paper. The continuous-tone image is
retained from the recessed areas on the plate that are etched to varying depths, each retaining different quantities of ink.
Theses exquisite prints exhibit a luxurious range of tones, from luminous whites to rich blacks, that brings both visual and
tactile textures to life.
SILVER GELATIN PRINT
The majority of black and white photographs seen in galleries and major exhibitions are silver prints. In the hands of a
skillful printer they can reveal an astonishingly beautiful range of tones and textures. Silver gelatin prints are made by
projecting a negative image through an enlarger onto a sheet of photographic paper in the darkroom. Microscopic silver
halide crystals, suspended in a thin emulsion of gelatin on the surface of the photographic paper, are exposed to light patterns
that correspond to those in the negative. The positive image is revealed when the paper is developed in a series of chemical
baths. The expressive power of the final silver print can then be even further enhanced by a variety of toning processes used
by the photographer to add yet another level of beauty and subtly to his or her work.
The most commonly used printing method today, offset printing is a mechanized version of a traditional lithography process
where oil and water are use to separate the image and non-image areas. The images are transferred to a plate that is inked,
then transferred again, or "offset," to a second plate to ensure the highest level of sharpness and detail before the image is
printed onto paper. In general, modern offset printing uses 4 ink colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black). We at 21ST Editions
have printed books in traditional 4-color offset, in offset with up to 10 colors, in dry-trap lithography, and have pursued the
use of environmentally friendly processes whenever possible. Additionally, our close collaboration with some of the oldest
and most respected American printing companies allows us the exacting control and attention to detail that is essential to any
21ST Editions or Legacy Editions publication.