Moving from Florida to Chapel Hill last year, I sold my Charles Brand press, the moving company wouldn’t move it, (too heavy) and I didn’t have a place to keep it in the new house. We had lived on a horse farm in Citra Florida for about 4 years, the farm had a well and a septic system which made it impossible to do copper plate photogravure (dichromate runoff). I looked into polymer plate photogravure gravure and it worked out pretty well. I made my own plates and was able to collect all effluent and dispose of it at a collection center, so nothing went into the ground. I haven’t been shooting much after the move but our last trip out to Jackson Hole WY and Telluride CO inspired me. The trip was an eye-opener. Returning home, I started looking around at prices for printing images in the size of 40×60 inches. The couple of images I had printed were nice, but I missed the feeling of making my own images by hand. I grew up printing black and white with Dad in the bathroom, later dabbling in Carbon printing and quite a bit of Photogravure.

My photogravure images on the farm were limited by the size of the press bed and in my case, it was about 20 inches wide. Coating my own papers to get to 40×60 would be a real challenge but seemed possible. Platinum and Palladium seem an expensive way to practice at that size, so I settled on Van Dyke Brown and Argyrotype, although these aren’t exactly cheap either. But as you can  choose to either tone the prints later (or not) with noble metals and provide archival results,  it seems a better way to go, at least at this point. I needed to replace the Douthitt plate burner that I sold when we moved, my problem was that none of the commercial burners were big enough to hold anything approaching a 40×60 sheet. Maybe sheet glass on closed-cell foam could work or maybe a frame of the same design that furniture laminate makers use? That was the idea I was exploring when one popped up for sale in Richmond for $45 while at the same time, I found an Epson 3880 in Alexandra, I drove down and back collecting both on the same day. I figured at $45 the printer was worth the try.


I also bought an Epson 7600 from an industrial reseller in Winston-Salem, it doesn’t work of course, but replacement print heads for this model are cheap enough that it’s worth a shot at fixing it when I’m done practicing making 17-inch wide prints.