Anyone sensitizing albumen paper with glass rods

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Anupam Basu, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    I have read in a couple of sources that glass rods are an alternative to sensitizing the paper by flotation in silver nitrate. This seems to have many advantages - not contaminating the silver nitrate solution and less silver nitrate stains all over the bathroom floor etc :smile:. But I tried it today and didn't have much success. No matter how quickly I worked, the points where I put the drops turned out darker and the image was generally uneven.

    Tips on coating by this method would be much appreciated. Silver nitrate is kind of expensive and so I prefer the economy as well as the repeatablity of this method (no contamination of the solution). Would a brush be a better bet than a rod?

    Thanks,
    Anupam
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you don't want wicking marks, you have to sensitize the paper in one smooth motion.

    The method I've heard of for coating with a rod is to lay down a line of silver nitrate at one end of the paper and pull it straight across in one pass, and then you cut off the uneven edges, including the area where you put down the line of silver nitrate. Whatever method you use, you always have to coat larger than you need and cut off the excess.

    If you look up Reilly's book at albumen.stanford.edu, it explains how to clear the silver nitrate solution with kaolin after it has been used, so you can reuse it. This is what I do.
     
  3. JLP

    JLP Subscriber

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    My experience with the glass rod is pretty much the same as yours Anupam, i have had success double coating but then you are also using more silver nitrate.


    jan
     
  4. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    David, I am coating as quickly and smoothly as possible. But I hadn't thought of coating a large area outside and then cutting off. I might try that, though I like the space and the rough edges outside the frame.

    Jan, the problem with double coating is the time it takes for both the coats to dry. Since albumen paper doesn't keep well, I have to coat in the morning, dry them and print in the afternoon (if I am printing in the sun). But I might give it a try - maybe with a dryer to speed it up.
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You're always going to get greater density where you put down the silver nitrate before pulling it with the coating rod. There's no way to avoid that, other than cutting it off.

    Another reason to cut the paper to the size of the final print is that large black areas outside the image eat up your toner, which is expensive, if you gold tone.

    I usually coat the night before a printing day and start printing around 10-11 a.m. and go as late as 4-5 p.m.
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I have watched Mark Osterman do it over and over with no marks. He does not use a glass rod. His course is stupendous.

    PE
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    But he floats, doesn't he? I think that once you get the hang of floating, it's the most reliable and neatest method. In the age of albumen printing, it was used pretty much exclusively.
     
  8. JLP

    JLP Subscriber

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    Anupam, i have coated late night and then second coating the next afternoon but, i do use a Nuarc so i am not depending on the sun (Not easy to do in Oregon anyway)

    jan
     
  9. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Hi, do you know what method he uses? I can get a smooth coat by flotation, but am trying to figure out other ways to get it smooth.
     
  10. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Mark floats and gets very even coatings. I have found no way to use a rod and get an even coating. The paper absorbs unevenly it and gives a pretty uneven surface. Brushing is good and the brush strokes give the picture a very interesting appearance. A foam brush works well, I understand. I can't use a foam brush with emulsions, but I have heard of people having good results with albumen.

    PE
     
  11. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    John Coffer demonstrated a glass rod approach to sensitizing paper for albumen prints this past summer at his the wet plate workshop I did.

    He took a glass rod, and with a blow torch bent it into roughly an "L" shape. Then he took the paper, and bent the sides up so the silver nitrate wouldn't spill off and spread it around with the rod. He apparently had been having some success with it until our workshop. In the end, one or two of our prints had some uneven splotches, so I think he was going to go back to the proverbial drawing board on that technique.
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I have tried the bent edge method, and the problem is that as the paper wets, it begins to buckle due to the stress of the bent edges. As a result, I had high and low spots that resulted in puddles which formed splotches just as you say.

    I have seen some success with a wire wrapped rod. I have posted the URL for a company that makes coating rods prewrapped with different guages of wire for different coating thicknesses. I'm not sure if it would work in this application, but I have seen some nice coatings made this way. It is quite messy though.

    PE
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think the silver nitrate solution would be too thin to work well with a wire wrapped rod. You could add gelatin to the solution to thicken it and get it to set up after coating, I guess, but that would change the surface of the paper (which some people may prefer).
     
  14. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    I have good coating 8x10 and 7x17 luck with a "Magic Brush". For 4x5 and 5x7 I usually use a rod. I always tape the corners to a piece of plate glass to insure a smooth background.