A technical dictionary of printmaking, André
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A photo-engraving process in which
a line drawing is used to make a zinc plate using photographic transfers, inking,
and biting the plate. F. Gillot created the first such process in 1850 and called it
paniconographie (from the greek pan meaning "all", icono
meaning "image", and graphein meaning "engraving" or "drawing"). His process
was used to make a typographical block (hence in relief) on zinc using a mechanical
transfer with greasy ink onto a perfectly
polished plate. The ink was used as a kind of acid resist. The mordant etched the
plate around the inked areas until the relief was high enough for typographical
printing. The difficulty in this process is to protect the talus or slopes going
from the relief parts to the base. In fact the biting tends to etch the borders and
etch laterally into these slopes so that the relief areas lose both their strength
and their accuracy with regard to the drawing. A good talus must slope outward in
order to ensure the solidity of the relief areas. Gillot understood that in order to
obtain such a talus one had to proceed with successive bitings, letting the ink
flow down the part of the talus that had already been etched. The ink thus protected
the talus that had already been etched. A special ink was used for this purpose
In 1872 Gillot applied the same process to photographic transfer on zinc and
it was this new application that was to be called gillotype.
If the reader wants to know more about the development of this technique he may turn
to the article on photo engraving.
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