Couple of clarifying carbon printing questions

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by mark, May 28, 2008.

  1. mark

    mark Member

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    I have been doing a lot of reading lately about Carbon and was thinking about maybe trying it. But I have a few questions

    Re: Squeegeeing the tissue

    Is the tissue on a substrate strong enough to withstand being squeegeed or is the tissue strong enough on its own?

    Bostic and Sullivan ready made tissue:
    Is this an easy way to start?
     
  2. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Hello!

    First question -- The word "tissue" is misleading...don't confuse carbon "tissue" with "tissue paper". A carbon tissue is a layer of pigmented gelatin on a substrate (the substrate is usually called the tissue support material). Generally one uses a substrate that is fairly strong. A few examples of what is used is Yupo (a synthetic water color paper), water color papers, unglued wallpaper, and what I use -- old litho film (.004" thick). Since one squeegees the tissue with the gelatin layer down, one is pulling the squeegee across the tissue support material -- so no worries about how strong it is.

    Second Question -- B&S tissue is a quick way to get started. Eventually, one will probably get into making one's own tissue in order to personalize the process...refining the color of the image, getting raised relief if one wants it, adjusting the process to the type of negatives one uses. etc. But one might be content staying with B&S tissues. They (Dick and his carbon helpers) are always refining the product. They are working on making a thicker tissue so that it can produce a raised relief, and on color tissues for making full color carbon prints.

    Hope this helps...

    Vaughn
     
  3. mark

    mark Member

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    Thanks Vaughn. I was definately getting confused by the term tissue. I could not figure out how one would squeegee gelatin

    That answers the questions. Now I have another. Yupo can get washed off, is it possible to reuse the substrate if it can be cleaned off.
     
  4. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Yupo can be re-used. I believe it is recommended that before using it, that one should clean it well with a weak bleach solution.

    I use litho film that our students toss out (reject prints), so it has images on it, but that does not matter. I reuse the litho film until it becomes too damaged to use (major creases, torn corners, etc...but even then sometimes I will cut it down a little to get rid of the defects). Some sheets have been used 20 times or more. I don't use any kind of cleanser on it.

    Sandy King prefers to coat large sheets, then once they are dry, cut them down to the size he needs. A very efficient coating method, but it does not allow one to reuse the sheets.

    If you try some of B&S tissue, they use some sort of synthetic paper for the support -- save the tissue support and use it later to make your own tissue!

    Vaughn
     
  5. mark

    mark Member

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    Thanks.

    In the reading I have been doing this does not seem to be a very complicated process, just takes a lot of practice.

    I have never seen a Carbon Print. I know what relief means but can't put my head around it for a photograph. Is the Image "etched" in to the gelatin?
     
  6. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Not etched in, but "raised above". If one exposed a thick layer of (relatively) lightly pigmented gelatin, the clear areas of the neg will allow the UV to penetrate deeper into the gelatin layer...thus a thicker layer of gelatin is hardened (or tanned, or has its melting point raised) in the black areas than in the highlights. Since the process is a matter of melting away the unexposed gelatin, the blacks of the final print are made up of a thicker layer of gelatin than the highlights -- thus the relief.

    Raised relief is not seen in most of the historical carbon prints...probably for two reasons. 1...it may not have been considered especially asthetically pleasing, and 2) a double transfer process was usually used to make the images read correctly (single transfer reverses the image) -- and with a double transfer the raised relief is usually hidden.

    I taught myself the carbon process and never saw an actual carbon (other than my own) print until 10+ years after I started. Early on, I saw a slight raised relief in my wet prints that disappeared when the print was dry (and the gelatin shrank). So I pushed the process to get as much relief as I could...fortunately not knowing that carbon prints "are not suppose to" have raised relief. I use the single transfer process.

    I am giving a workshop in carbon prints next month in Hayward, CA (by PhotoCentral) -- part of a workshop covering cyanotypes and van Dykes. I'll cover just the basics and everyone will go home with a print they made in each of the processes. For a workshop that goes into much further deail, see Sandy King's workshops in Idaho (thru Photographer's Formuary).

    But in any case, please feel free to contact me directly, or post here with any questions...I am very happy to be of any help.

    Vaughn
     
  7. mark

    mark Member

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    Thanks Vaughn
     
  8. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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  9. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I'm wondering a few things about Yupo "paper". To use it as a final support, does it need to be sized at all, or is it good to go out-of-the-box?

    Also, since it can be used for tissues too (and subsequently reused), it seems like a panacea! What should I be weary about with Yupo paper and carbon? Thanks in advance.

    (I'm considering a trip to Kansas City to pick up this stuff, hence the barrage of questions)

    And also, what's the best deal/archivability trade-off when it comes to watercolor papers? I'm considering buying a roll. Arches is the best, but quite expensive. Strathmore makes a hot-pressed, archival watercolor paper called 500 Series Imperial. Any other suggestions off the top of your head? I'm going to crunch the numbers throughout a variety of brands...
     
  10. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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  11. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    Yupo is plastic, in my experience, gelatin doesn't adhere particularly well, which is great for tissue, not so great as a final support.

    I have been using Canson Bristol, sized with GAC 100 (Golden Acrylic) as a final support with success. I believe the GAC is considered an 'archival' product. Several coats, applied with a foam roller renders the relatively inexpensive Canson Bristol quite durable, and depending upon dilution, the surface texture can be controlled.
     
  12. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Thanks much Ian.

    That's good to know about Bristol paper, I hadn't considered such a light-weight paper. I think I'm going to stick with gelatin for now so that I can gain experience that might someday apply to dye-imbibition coatings. However, the GAC seems like a beautifully simple solution.

    As for the Yupo, perhaps I'll buy a book of it and see how long I can keep reusing them for tissues.
     
  13. DarkroomDan

    DarkroomDan Subscriber

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    I have been using Yupo for tissue support for three years and have yet to need to discard a sheet. I have also used it a few times as a final support. There is no need to size Yupo when used as a final support; the tissue adhears very well. For me, the drawback to using it as a final support is that it is plastic and looks like it. With all the work it takes to make a good carbon print I really prefer a support with a more natural "hand" and appearance. Fixed out RC papers work well too but again I don't like the look or feel.

    Dan
     
  14. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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  15. mark

    mark Member

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    I checked out Sandy's group and have no desire to go back. I hate the Yahoo environment, and have no desire to talk digital negs which, when I was looking at it, over a two week period, was what took up 90% of the conversation. Great for some but not for me. I'm just not into computers that much.
     
  16. Jim Fitzgerald

    Jim Fitzgerald Member

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    Mark, nice to hear that you wish to keep a traditional work flow. I am of the same opinion and feel that for me and the way I work my in camera large and Ultra large format negatives gives me all that I am after.

    My opinion about getting into carbon is very straight forward. make your own tissue and learn the controls that one has right out of the gate. You will be glad you did. If you can take but one workshop then do so. I teach, as does Vaughn who was my teacher, Sandy and some others. I have always felt that you need one workshop to see the process and the steps. Then you need to print and print a lot. Develop a work flow and if you keep good notes you will be making great prints in no time. Start with fixed out fiber or Rc to start. There are so many surfaces to try that affect the final look of the image and it is good to see this.Simple and easy to do. No sizing etc. which can be an additional learning curve. Find a teacher who works with in camera negatives and learn from them and then, like I say, it is all about printing. Oh, if you get into it big time get an account at bulk foods .com so you can buy gelatin.
    Good luck and let me know if I can help.
     
  17. mark

    mark Member

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    Thank you. Living in the sticks precludes a workshop. Would be nice but not really going to happen. Things are on hold right now due to family and work issues but maybe those will clear up here soon. Seems like my whole life is on hold these days. When I dive in I will definitely be picking people's brains. It looks like a very fun process.
     
  18. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Yesterday I went to a really great art supply store in K.C. (Utrecht) and it was like being a kid in a candy store. They have big drawers of papers and I could buy one 22x30" sheet of Arches, or Artistico, Rives, or whatever. As it ended up, I bought 5 big sheets of Arches Aquarelle 140lb.

    I also got a booklet of Yupo and poured 4 tissues last night. Along with what Dan said, it seems like the perfect solution for tissue supports. Although it's pricey, they're reusable, and incredibly easy to work with. Not to mention, I made a few mistakes and all I had to do was scrape off the gelatin with a credit card, put it back in the warming jar, and try again. Perfect for a beginner such as myself.

    Also interesting about Yupo as a final support. I suspected it would work without any preparation because somewhere in the one of the books, it mentions that the real reason a carbon transfer works is in the joining of two highly polished surfaces; that natural "stickiness" that occurs between them is what keeps it together, not necessarily any "joining" at a molecular level.

    Next step, preparing final supports with the Arches..