Cyanotype On Glass - 1st try...

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by vickersdc, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

    Messages:
    337
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Surrey, Engl
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I thought I'd try a cyanotype on glass; this only came about as I wanted to try pouring emulsion on to glass after subbing it with gelatin. In the end, I had some cyanotype solution left over from some printing and figured I use that instead of the standard emulsion.

    Unfortunately, I didn't have any chrome alum, and I only had food grade gelatin, but as this was just a practice piece I figured I'd have a go anyway! Here's the result from that experiment...

    [​IMG]

    I've since ordered some photographic-grade gelatin and chrome alum, and the experiment was successful enough to make me want to do some more experimentation. I've also subbed a glass plate with some arrowroot instead of gelatin, to see what happens with that.

    Has anyone else had experience of cyanotype on glass?

    Cheers,
    David.
     
  2. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,296
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I always wanted to try that and never got to it. You've beat me to it, and all the power to you. My idea was to protect it with another sheet of glass and put the whole think into a backlit frame. I has already selected the frame for it:

    http://www.photoglow.com/wall.htm
     
  3. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

    Messages:
    337
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Surrey, Engl
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That's a neat idea - I'd got as far as thinking about selecting a picture frame, printing on to the glass and sticking the glass back into the frame with white card behind it!
     
  4. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,296
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A high-end solution would be a a suspended frame by Halbe. The glass would appear to float inside of a classic frame, having some depth.

    http://halbe-rahmen.de/en/main/produkte/distanz.html
     
  5. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

    Messages:
    337
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Surrey, Engl
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I looked at that link, but I'm not quite sure that I 'get it'. It's a deep frame, with glass at the front edge, but the actual picture is set back, away from the glass (unlike a normal picture frame)... is that right?

    Doesn't seem that hard to make if that's the case (out of wood at any rate). Hmmm, food for thought...
     
  6. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

    Messages:
    9,066
    Joined:
    May 3, 2006
    Location:
    Ryde, Isle o
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I would like to put it into an actual wooden window frame.


    Steve.
     
  7. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

    Messages:
    337
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Surrey, Engl
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As long as you've got a suitable negative to fit the window frame, then why not. Sounds like a great project. Imagine a front / back door with multiple panes of glass - each one could have a separate cyanotype image.
     
  8. banana_legs

    banana_legs Member

    Messages:
    47
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Location:
    Wiltshire, U
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    David,

    I have made a few tests on glass, but nothing really large yet. I have now found a UK source of formaldehyde so I plan to have another go, but with decent hardening of the of base-layer. I have used potassium alum in the past and although it usually works, I have had a few images slip off the glass and down the sink. Formaldehyde is nasty though and a bit 'Damien Hirst'.

    Best regards,

    Evan
     
  9. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

    Messages:
    337
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Surrey, Engl
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi Evan,

    Have you received the supplies from the taxidermists? I hope you report your findings after using formaldehyde - for now, I'll stick with the chrome alum! Is the potassium alum better for working with glass than chrome alum?

    Cheers,
    David.
    PS: I've done you a print and the arrowroot has dried on the hand-made paper, so I should be sending you those this weekend.
     
  10. phritz phantom

    phritz phantom Member

    Messages:
    213
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    (this is what i know about the alums and i'm no expert nor chemist. so reader beware)

    as far as i know the potassium alum hardens the gelatin LESS than the chrome alum. this is sometimes preferable, for example in doing a certain technique in carbon printing. so the c.a. is what you'd usually want.
    one caveat: i've read that the alums take longer to harden the gelatin than the aldehydes (which harden immediately, or close to that). so, the general advice is to let the substrate coated with the alum-hardened gelatin dry and harden for one or two days.
    you will find more info on the alums and aldehydes in the alt. photo mailing list archives and i some of sandy king's writings in various places (that' where i got most of my info on the alums)
     
  11. banana_legs

    banana_legs Member

    Messages:
    47
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Location:
    Wiltshire, U
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Yes after a little hunting, the taxidermy suppliers came up trumps. The formaldehyde looks like it will work out much cheaper than alum too; in cost terms anyway, not sure about health!

    I have not tried chrome alum, but the potassium (and also ammonium alum which I have a little of) do harden the gelatine over time and in a small concentration (about 10% relative to the gelatine) can be quite effective; the solution is very clear too so does not itself stain the paper in any way. Unfortunately, by the time I get to 10% concentration, the cyanotype behaviour has changed quite noticeably. I am not sure if it is the mild acidity of the alum but the image looks and behaves very similarly to when using a strong acid wash to develop the print. The apparent speed of the sensitiser is increased by at least a stop (which is useful), but I find that I get blue in the water that attaches itself at random on the print, clouding the highlights. The yellow sensitiser is also sometimes very hard to wash out, although the poor washing behaviour is erratic and unpredictable.

    I have found with 3% of alum to the weight of dry gelatine, the impact on the developing is minimal and although the gelatine mix is only slightly thickened, it is much easier to size the paper first time from the water-leaf state. With just plain gelatine (3% in water), the water-leaf paper is exceptionally fragile after brushing on the first coat and I have made many holes in the sheets. Interestingly, if I sensitise a sheet of paper and leave it in the dark for a few days before I expose it, with gelatine-only coated paper, the yellow goes a fraction darker, but the paper works fine. The gelatine-alum paper gets really quite green within 2 days and then has a blue 'fog' when you use it. I have some gelatine-formaldehyde paper in the dark now to see how it behaves.

    The gelatine-formaldehyde coats the paper much more satisfactorily and the paper can withstand a warm water wash well too, which will make any of my alum paper fall apart. The coating process is a little trickier though as I do it wearing thick rubber gloves. I am experimenting with different concentrations and methods so will let you know which is most effective.

    I look forward to seeing the print David and I will let you know when it arrives.


    Best regards,

    Evan
     
  12. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

    Messages:
    337
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Surrey, Engl
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I seem to have had a lot of failures dealing with cyanotype on glass, but here's one that did work! Although, it's not exactly as I wanted it, it's good enough to serve as inspiration for me.

    It's a 5x7 image on glass, then put in the photo-frame with a white backing paper.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers,
    David.
    PS: I've got some more glass cyanotypes printing right now as I'm trying to make the most of the sunshine!
     
  13. rorye

    rorye Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,167
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2004
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    That looks really great David! Looks like your perseverance is paying off.
     
  14. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

    Messages:
    337
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Surrey, Engl
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You spoke too soon! I had another four failures today :0(

    Funnily enough, the best one so far has been with food gelatine as a substrate - just about everyone that I've used photo-gelatin and chrom alum has failed. I'm beginning to think that gelatin only allows the cyanotype solution to soak into it (and the chrom alum prevents that).

    Cheers,
    David.
     
  15. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

    Messages:
    653
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Istanbul, Tu
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nice work David, keep trying. Have you tried to: prepare double strength (or 1.5x) stock solutions, mix 1A+1B coating solution, dilute this coating solution 1:1 with gelatin and use this on a glass previously coated with hardened gelatin?

    A note: Cyanotype image needs oxygen to repair itself from the fading effect of ambient light, therefore make sure the image on glass has access to air. If not, you'll have a gradually fading image after local oxygen is depleted...

    Regards,
    Loris.
     
  16. Barry S

    Barry S Member

    Messages:
    1,347
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Location:
    DC Metro
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Here's a crazy idea. Try making a weak negative by printing with a plate you've already made, and putting on a black backing for a ....Cyanbrotype. :smile:
     
  17. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

    Messages:
    337
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Surrey, Engl
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Loris: I did try a mix using 2ml gelatin & chrom alum, and adding 5ml cyanotype sensitiser to it. It just washed off the glass. I even tried refrigerating the glass, in case the gelatin was softening due to being sat out in the sun to expose. No difference.

    However, I will try your idea of hardened gelatin, with a gelatin/cyanotype layer on top - I'll let you know what happens.

    Barry: now it's funny you should say that, as the image posted above shows a weak positive that didn't really come to life until I'd backed it with the white paper!

    Cheers,
    David.
     
  18. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,047
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2004
    Location:
    Lehi, Utah
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Have you tried the trick of the wet plate practitioners?

    The glass plate is cleaned first with rotten stone (or pumice) to allow the glass to be as clean as possible.

    This helps to keep the emulsion on the glass.
     
  19. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

    Messages:
    653
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Istanbul, Tu
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    David, if you use sun as the lightsource the heat would be a real concern. Maybe you can print under open shade, there will be still plenty of UV coming from the blue sky. (Printing times will be longer for sure, but manageable I think - I mean if you can tolerate something like 1 - 1.5 stop speed loss...)
     
  20. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

    Messages:
    337
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Surrey, Engl
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When it takes 1+ hours to print anyway, a bit longer won't make any difference! I'm now thinking about when I did the most successful print on to glass (which happened to be the very first one I did) - it may well have been an overcast day and would definitely have been cold outside.

    Robert:

    Thanks for the tip with the pumice - but doesn't that result in scratched glass?
     
  21. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,047
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2004
    Location:
    Lehi, Utah
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    David,

    No, it needs to be rotten stone, not aluminum carbide. :smile: Keep in mind that the glass is pretty hard compared to the rotten stone. (and that the wet plate folks have been using it for a very very long time.)
     
  22. donbga

    donbga Member

    Messages:
    2,084
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Shooter:
    Large Format Pan
    Cyanotype on glass

    I would strongly urge anyone interested in printing cyanotype on glass to Google Galina Manikova. She is a master of Cyanotype on glass. If nothing else, you can get to take a look at here inspiring work on glass. I think there maybe a technical article filed away here or there where she discusses here methodology.

    This link will take you to her website:

    http://www.galina.no/

    It's one of the few sites that have music that's supports the site design.