I can count on one hand the number of practicing collotypists in the United States and still have enough fingers left to write down their names. Master printers Accra Shepp and Edward Fausty have been working on campus all semester with a small group of students to revitalize this forgotten technique. Their finished project, an artist’s book called Atlas, is on view in the Princeton Atelier at 185 Nassau Street through January 17.
For more information, see http://www.princeton.edu/arts/events/archive/collotypeandtheartists1/
There are several different ways of making a collotype, each one more difficult than the next, but if done correctly the process results in a photomechanical image with soft, continuous tone because it is made without the use of a half-tone screen. In general, a metal plate is coated with a light-sensitive gelatin solution and exposed to light through a photographic negative. The gelatin is hardened in exposed areas and is then soaked in glycerin, which is absorbed most in the non-hardened areas. The hardened areas accept the ink, and the plate can be printed just like an etching or engraving.