Historically the producers of collotype printing have been secretive and taken a proprietary attitude toward the production of collotype prints. Therefore, knowledge about and information on the growth of the collotype industry has been minimal. Although the collotype process produces prints that are amoung the most beautiful and delicate of any graphic arts medium, collotypes presently are rarely produced commercially or even as an artistic medium. Eventually, the making of collotypes will be a lost art. The primary objective of this thesis was to produce a portfolio of photographic images which illustrates all of the production steps in the making of a collotype print. Included with the photographic essay is a condensed history of collotype, a technical review of the collotype printing process, and analysis of the present state of collotype printing. This thesis endeavors to ensure that the techniques used to produce collotype prints are accurately documented. In addition, the thesis presents an illustrated record of the contemporary collotype printing process. To ensure the proper procedures and techniques necessary to produce a quality collotype print, a collaboration with an expert collotype printer was initiated. Thus, the collotype printing and subsequent photographic documentation was done with Kent Kirby at his Light-print Press in Alma, Michigan. Kirby is one of a handful of individuals working in collotype today, and his studio is one of the last remaining collotype studios in the world. He is an expert collotype printmaker and the author of Studio Collotype, (1988) the most comprehensive manual on collotype printing. Though his book contains extensive information about collotype, it lacks a visual narrative of the collotype process. In addition to the photographic documentation, there is a written description of the collotype printing process. This includes sections on the press, plate preparation, plate exposure, substrate information, printing techniques, ink and its application, and dampening solutions. This thesis project also includes a historical background of the process and an analysis concerning the state of contemporary collotype for commercial and artistic applications. The research includes information gathered during interviews with expert contemporary collotype printers such as Kent Rush of the University of Texas, San Antonio, James Hajicek of Arizona State University and Kent Kirby. In addition, interviews were conducted with Michael Intrator of Black Box Collotype, Andre DePolo of Alinari Archive, Florence, Italy, Ms. Leibiger of Lichtdruck Grafisches Zentrum fur Druckkunst, Dresden, Germany, and Tom Reardon, formerly with The Jaffe Heliochrome Press, New York as to their insight into the demise of the commercial collotype. The backbone of this thesis project is a portfolio of eighteen original black-and-white matted and mounted silver prints that photographically document the collotype process. In addition to the documentary photographs, the portfolio also contains an original photograph and an original collotype reproduction. These two images enable the reader to compare the original silver print photograph and a photomechanical reproduction of it.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Department, Program, or Center
School of Print Media (CIAS)
Defibaugh, Denis, "The Collotype: History, process & photographic documentaion" (1997). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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