Making my own photo-paper for possible use in FMP?
Looking at and touching all the papers really got me excited, this week, at the book binders, and at Freestyle Photo with Eric Joseph I love the feel and smell of good paper, canvas and cardboard. I my others works (paintings and drawings) I use all types of paper to work on.
I decided to make my own phtographic paper and bought some ‘liquid light’ I have wanted to try this stuff for decades and as I was down at Freestyle I bought some. I do not know if I will do any of it for my FMP, but who knows, I think I will just fool around with it and see what the postential is.
I decided I would coat some specailty paper and went down to Blicks Art store. The sales person there soon got too bogged down with my paper questions and said that I should go to a place that specializes in papers and she recommended a company down in Los Angeles called McManus & Morgan that imports and works with some very fine types of art paper.
I headed to do some physical research and learn more about paper. Of course now that I am going to have a book bound and the BINDERY and looking at all these paper products at Freestyle got me very stimulated creatively.
I arrive to find the front entrance closed off. One of my ‘Fences’ acting up. However I am escorted into the building through the back, because the building is very old, a landmark, and the owner is completely upgrading the building, including the sidewalk, so alsmost everything is covered with plastic inside.
As I enter, I feel like I am back in 1927. The owner is the son of the founder and the same cash register is still in use. When you press the keys the amount shows up on the register and it makes a CHA-CHING sound, and this is where that term we use in the US when someone wracks up charges on you for services comes from – ‘CHA-CHING’ from these old registers when ringing someone up. So I learned something new. There website is also something I like very much, it’s one page and simplicity at it’s best. I will take this into account on my own website I am building.
I mentioned to Gary the owner what I am attempting to do, and he recommended a few water color papers because they are already sized, and showed me the difference between cold pressed and hot pressed paper, machine made versus hand made, as well as an intro how to cut paper. He suggested hot Lanaquarelle, that comes from a mill in Germany that has been working since 1590
It is a smooth surface, sized, and deckled edges giving the paper a very beautiful finish. For spreading the liquid emulsion I preferred a smooth surface to start as I did not want to use up all the liquid light. It is very expensive and shakes easily into textures unsized surfaces. I bought two sheet of the paper 22×30 inches and at $10 a sheet it was well worth it.
He also showed me some hand made paper, it is expensive and very textured. Beautiful to smell and feel. But at $32.22 (2016 prices) for a sheet, it was a little expensive for my taste at the moment.
I left the store with two sheets of paper via the front door. I was the first person to leave the shop and step onto the nice new concrete sidewalk, as it was dry enough to walk on by the time I left. In the back out the front! Nice metaphor for life.
Now on my way home to sensitize some of my new paper.
Making the sensitizing the paper:
I cut one of the bought sheets into 8×10 size pieces of paper. I sized some of the paper with PVA sizing, had to warm up the Liquid Light so that it could become liquid to apply.
I applied the light sensitive gel to the paper I had bought with a smooth bristle paint brush, and even though It was easy to apply, I was working under a ver low red light to which the light sensitive gel does not respond, bur seeing as I was coating about 8 sheets of 8×10 in my darkroom, I did not want the emulsion to be exposed to the red light too long either, so I made sure it was behind me and I dimmed it down 50% with an inline dimmer just incase it would fog. This is the first time that I have used this material and did not want to waste all the effort only to find a slight fog.
The difficulty I experienced was that it is not easy to see the gel coating, and was not sure of I covered the entire surface, but I did go across a few time back and forth, diagonally and counter diagonally, so felt pretty comfortable that I had coated the paper completely.
I did this at night, so I could leave it to dry in my darkroom and leave while it dried by the door with the next room lights out. I do not have a dark door on my bathroom converted darkroom so I had to do it this way. I left it to dry for about an hour and a half with the red light off and the darkroom door shut, when I returned the surface was dry and I stacked them into a light tight paper box.
Making the Print:
I did make a few test prints of one of my images, it came out pretty well, however the coating was a little thin and uneven, but the contrast and highlights good. I can see that it will take some time to perfect the coating. I am glad I did it but will continue with commercial paper for the time being for my FMP. Do not want to get spread too think at this stage. I need to start printing my work for the exhibit.
Paper Washing of Prints for my FMP.
This paper staining of the fiber base paper, is really a concern to me. I have been doing research and tests on the paper, and find that in general, fiber base paper needs to be washed and hypo cleared for over an hour before the fixer in removed. As yet, I have not contacted Dave Butcher, but I have sent an email to Marc Verasella as well, and hoping to hear back from him this week.
Most of what I have read about washing fiber paper just seems to conflict with what I do. I did contact Photographers Formulary, and Bud said that only two drops needs to be dropped on the paper and it must not run. In addition, it has to be done in room light. I was holding it out in the sunlight to see the satin easier, however this is incorrect, and the sun will actually darken the stain of the Residual Hypo Checker, and leaving it longer than two minutes, or letting the drop run down to a tail is not the correct way either.
With these two changes, it seems that the stain is becoming lighter and lighter. Tomorrow I will be at Santa Monica College darkroom, and I will print and wash then do a check there. However, it seems that the washing time will have to be well over an hour.
Why is this such an issue? I will not feel good having one of my prints sell, knowing that I did not process it to the best standard, in addition I would like my work to last a long time. Should I ever have the opportunity to seil my work like Ansel did, I want it to be archival for the client. Each stage of the print making process has it’s issues. and I want to be as good as possible all the way down the line.
Freestyle Photo and Eric Joseph.
Freestylephoto is my go to store for paper and chemicals, they have a large inventory and their staff is particularly knowledgeable. I approached Eric Joseph on the matter. Eric is an expert in both darkroom and digital printing, boasting that he can get a good digital print in the frirst round [and he can, I have been witness to it]
He showed me an exhibtion of his work, printed on various papers (digital) and I brought up my concerns of archivability to him, and he threw back his head and laughed. He said it is very difficult, if not impossible to define ‘archival’ because it’s all theory based and based on numbers. He also said a very interesting thing to me. He said that some collectors actually like it when the prints go yellow or age, because it becomes a marker that the work is genuine.
For the most part he eased up my concerns about archival and told me to do the recommended wash time manufacturers specifications. He also said he would check the age of my paper, as that could have an effect, which he did, and assured me the paper was “fresh”
He took me back to his exhibit, all digital prints made on various types of paper and framed, and as always, his work and color was absolutely stunning. Eric prints on various papers that lends itself to the image, so his exhibition consisted of some images that where glossy, others matte, others textured. When I asked him about consistency of paper again he chuckled and mentioned something to the fact that he let that go a long time ago, and selects the best paper he feels is right for the print on an individual basis.
Printing Refresher at Santa Monica College:
Went down to SMC on Sunday and printed from about 1 PM to 6 PM, so put in 4 hours of actual printing. The professor said that my printing was ‘on a roll’ He found my work to be very interesting and mentioned they are having a job faire at the college and that I should apply. It would be part time, but the pay is very good and SMC is a great school, so I am thinking about going down and applying. I would teach film and photography. May be good for a while to build up teaching skills at SMC, but on the other hand may not be good because it’s sidetracking me again from being a full time artist selling my work. A very difficult fence to cross, and maybe wartime would be fine while I get that going, but I know, any change in the mix affects the final outcome, so I will meditate and pray on it and see what advice come from the other.
I am happy with the way the images are turning out, and as I have mentioned I will print mp fmp on 11×14 full frame on Fibre paper, and mount them myself.