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Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by cjarvis, May 20, 2004.
Only if they're truly not 99.99% eggy. I wonder what the other .01% is, though.
packaged egg whites
I'd worry about the nature of the "salt" in the less than 1% and how any other additions might affect the end product.
If you are really trying to learn the albumen process I'd suggest doing it the classic way, which Chad's article clearly lays out. Especially until one is experienced and has reproducable acceptible results on each batch. Don't need unknown variables.
I just made up a liter batch the first of the week to have on hand in a couple of weeks to print out some wet-plate stereo prints and 5 x 7 landscapes I want to do at City of the Rocks. I've never had any real problems with using fresh eggs and after a while it gets almost a habit making it. It does have a beauty like nothing else when prepared right and processed in various ways and using various toning. Well worth the time spent learning it.
I've had a lot of fun this past winter alternating between albumen and arrowroot prints as I needed to get experienced for doing some old steero cards this summer.
What kind of paper are you planning to use?
I'm located in Malad.
I've been using Stratmore 500 Drawing -- 1 ply -- plate finish for albumen and then mounting them on thin cardboard. Only problem is I have had to order it out of NYC, since nowhere here carries it and neither does Salt Lake CIty stores.
Have used 400 Drawing for Arrowroot prints, which did fine. Had few problems with other alternative process though such as cyanotype. Actually had good luck with both 500 and 300 for those.
Really like the 500 in that form as for small 5x7, 4 x5 and the old wet-plate era CVD size, there is a very easy way I heard about to mount them by running them through -- don't laugh -- a hand powered noodle maker! Heard that one for a fellow wet plate artist, and to my surprise not only worked, but was extremely easy. Learned more than a few shortcuts and eaiser ways to do a few things with albumen paper from that source.
The whole act of making the albumen mixture is the best part of the process. I admit I never tried the pre-packaged egg whites, but you'd want to froth them up anyway, so there'd be no big time savings. You'd still have to let them sit overnight, but I'd imagine whipping them would get rid of most of the impurities. Guar gum. What is that crap anyway?
jdef, start with 4x5 if you've never done albumen before. You'd be surprised how much more difficult it is to get an even coating on larger papers, which is why I've only done albumen in 5x7. I'd agree with hermit, though, that Strathmore 500 is a great way to start. I still tend to use Cranes Kid Finish as an all-around paper, though it's light (32#) and tough to handle sometimes; it curls like mad with albumen.
Here's the tip of a lifetime for albumen: when you're coating and the paper tends to curl up and away from the solution, breath on the back of the paper to get it to relax. I used to use a light mister kind of spray bottle, but a friend of mine turned me on to the "hot breath method". Haven't looked back.
In my reading on the subject I was under the impression the paper is wholly immersed in the albumen and hung to dry. You do it differently?
Yeah. Only coat one side. You float the paper on the surface of the albumen mixture; let it dry; refloat on albumen if you want a better surface; then float on your sensitizer.
Thanks for clearing that up for me. Sounds like a simple enough process I might try it when things settle down some.
Hope you guys will post something when you get it..have always loved the look of albumen prints. Most have been VERY large, which makes me wonder how those folks used to do them. Would like to give it a try when I have time, also, what type of light source do you plan on using - don't recall if this is a UV process or not.
One thing to remember is that old albumen prints were mostly made on manufactured paper. I have great admiration for contemporary printers who create large albumen works. They must have the patience of Job.
I attended a workshop with Zoe Zimmerman last year and while she may not be the most scientific person in her approach to the process, she produces exquisite albumen prints. WRT eggs whites, she told us that fresh eggs are best and organic eggs even better. I haven't made any comparisons myself, but I use fresh eggs.
I love the process, though it has become too time-consuming for me to really spend any time on any longer - too many irons in the fire, but it was a rare occasion that I could make a perfectly coated sheet. In the time it takes to make one albumen print, I can easily make a dozen or more platinums or kallis.
You'll do fine right out o'gate. It's actually got not much of a learning curve. Just a lot of steps that can ruin your print! Heh...It's frustrating at first. Don't give up.