Ferrotyping

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Andy Durazo, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. Andy Durazo

    Andy Durazo Member

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    I just got some ferrotyping plates. I would like to use them but I need to clean and/or polish them. The old threads did have cleaning suggestions but are too old on the polishing side. What should I use to clean and polish the plates.

    Thanx for your help,


    Andy

    :smile:
     
  2. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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  3. Andy Durazo

    Andy Durazo Member

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    Thanx I'll check them out.

    Andy
     
  4. Captain_joe6

    Captain_joe6 Member

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    I'm probably operating the only glazing (ferrotyping) operation, such as it is, in Oregon, and I can say, it aint easy. There is a distinct learning curve that will have you second-guessing and tweaking almost every step of your printing process. Mine goes like this:

    1)dev, acid stop, hardening fix

    The hardening fix I've found to be of great importance. Prints were sticking bad to my dryer until I switched to hardening fix.

    2)wash 30 min, cold.
    3)Heico PermaWash diluted per bottle, agitated gently for 5 minutes
    4)Wash 10 min, cold.
    5)Selenium tone 1oz to 1gal of warm (100F) water for 3 minutes
    6)Wash 20 min, warm (75F)

    The warm second wash is both to speed the washing process by swelling the gelatin topcoat, and to soften it for drying. Also in this bath is a small amount of Kodak Print Flattening Solution (really just a solution of glycerine) that aids in the prints' release from the glazing drum.

    After this, prints go into a holding tray of more 75F water. One at a time they are removed, squeegeed once (one single pass, top to bottom), and placed onto the blanket of the print dryer.

    I was lucky in that my print dryer has both a clean blanket and an exceptionally clean drum that is free from scratches and rust. Likewise, I've ended up with a good supply of Kodak Ferrotype Plate Polish. Its a mix of parrafin wax and benzene. In order to prevent sticks and crazing, I have to be constantly be polishing the drum with a dab (tiny, tiny, tiny amount) of polish on a lint-free rag (which also keeps down the appearance of lint embossments).

    After a couple weeks of banging my head against the thing and very carefully picking ruined, stuck prints from the drum, my success rate stands at about 95%, which from what I hear is pretty good.

    I've used the same process on some individual ferrotype plates, with mixed results. The key seems to be applying a great deal of pressure when sticking the paper to the plate, and then leaving it in a place where it can dry as slowly as possible, with the back a little bit damp, so that it will peel off naturally and avoid telltale "oyster shell" lines (concentric lines from the paper drying and peeling the gelatin off the plate a bit at a time, leaving a mark where it couldn't peel any further until it was more dry).

    I've got all the formulas for all this junk around, collected over the years, so if you can't find any of them, let me know and I'll do some digging. What I can say, though, is that once you've got it dialed in and pull that first well-glazed print off, you understand what all the fuss was about and be better for it. It's an art I'd rather not see die off.
     
  5. Captain_joe6

    Captain_joe6 Member

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    I should note as well that I've tinkered with the acetate solution mentioned above, and the problem always seems to be keeping the whole paper/acetate assembly from drying too quickly, in which case you get oyster marks and/or a print that won't come off the acetate.
     
  6. Andy Durazo

    Andy Durazo Member

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    Thanx this sounds like what I'm looking for. A couple of questions. Can I use Pakosol instead of Kodak Print flattening solution. I know both are no longer made but I've got a load of Pakosol. Second question; I tend to use a sepia toner not selenium and have found that using a non hardening fix is better for toning. Can I make a seperate hardening solution after the toning?
     
  7. Andy Durazo

    Andy Durazo Member

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    Oh and what should I clean the plates with? I have individual plates not a drum dryer.
     
  8. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    I would suggest Simichrome polish. You'll find it in any biker shop.

    - Leigh
     
  9. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    Thanks for this. I have one of these drying drums and I have never used it nor do I know how to. Is there a place where an instruction manual can be found? Also, how long do typically leave the print on the drum?
     
  10. Captain_joe6

    Captain_joe6 Member

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    As for Pakosol, it was originally intended to do pretty much the same thing as print flattening solution, so you should be golden there. Lucky find on that one.

    Hardening can most certainly occur via a seperate bath. Doesn't matter where in the process it happens, so long as it happens and the residual gets washed out thoroughly.

    As for cleaning the plates, I'd go along with Leigh's suggestion of a chrome polish. Basically, you're looking for a non-abrasive cleaner (at least as non-abrasive as a polish can be) that will leave just the slightest hint of a waxy residue on the plate, which aids in releasing the paper. If you can see a residue, there's too much, so its kind of a try it and see situation for getting the amount right.

    I've never seen any instructions for a drum-type dryer anywhere, but they're pretty self-explanatory. I'm using a Prinz-brand dryer, which feeds from the bottom and spits out the finished print just above where you feed them in, held against the drum by a continuous length of canvas stretched tight. Pretty common design. The speed and temperature aren't variable. I just turn it on and let it heat up until the light goes off, then start feeding it prints. Once they've come around, they're dry. takes maybe 30-40 seconds to spit one out.

    I will say as a mild warning that as the gelatin topcoat on glossy FB paper is...well...gelatin, it is extraordinarily fragile and impossible to repair. Fingerprints are almost a certainty, as are scratches from all but the very softest lint brushes and cloths. You'd be best off wearing cotton gloves, handling the finished prints gently, and blowing them off with air. If you're dry-mounting them, use a sheet of butcher paper to protect the print in the press (rather than the more common matte board) with the shiny side against the image.
     
  11. GIGA

    GIGA Member

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    Is Matte Finish turning Glossy?

    I have a bunch of prints 20x24 MG Classic Matte Finish which I want to ferrotype to get a Glossy finish.
    Those prints are already dry now, and they have been fixed with no hardener and subsequently toned in whole range of soultions (sulfide, thiourrea, gold selenium, iron, cobalt, polisulfide..).
    I am looking now for an individual ferrotype plate (though I haven't found any of the size I need!) and I would like to try out the process, theoretically I understood that a matte finish will turn glossy, but I actually have no idea. Any advise on this?
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If it's actually matte finish, it's not going to gloss with ferrotyping. Glossy finish will gloss, if ferrotyped.

    Your best bet would be a glossing spray, but it's not likely to be archival, and it takes some practice to apply evenly. Another possibility might be face mounting to acrylic, which also probably isn't great from an archival perspective, but is a popular method of high-gloss mounting these days.
     
  13. GIGA

    GIGA Member

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    Thank You for the reply, and alternative ideas.
    Researching further I can add another option, which is varnish it, effect is different from glossy by might work for me.
     
  14. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Ansel Adams provides a recipe for print varnish in his book "The Print." I have used it and it works very well. However such varnishes are designed to be used very sparingly and are mainly intended to increase print contrast with matte papers. When used to provide a truly glossy finish they do not work very well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2015
  15. GIGA

    GIGA Member

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    I have read also about Adams varnish recipe, I report here the text (found on APUG of course!):
    Ansel Adams' The Print(1950): "First, one buys a small can of lithographer's varnish No. 1...This should last for years. Next one buys a bottle of Carbona (carbon tetrachloride), the solvent for the varnish...A good way to get the varnish into the Carbona is with a swab stick, letting it run off drop by drop until the Carbona is a lemon-yellow color after shaking. The varnish is then ready to apply with a piece of cotton. Cover the print thoroughly...then smooth the whole surface out by taking almost all the varnish off by rubbing briskly with a piece of dry absorbent cotton...The varnish is slow-drying (3 or 4 days)...and I have never noticed any evidence of discoloration." Adams noted "This print varnish is for matte, semimatte, and semigloss prints."

    Otherwise I have been reading around about Sally Mann mystery technique: her prints are listed by the gallery as "soluvar varnished", and reading other guesses on APUG forums as "The photographs are treated with sandarac varnish or Soluvar matte varnish mixed with diatomaceous earth"

    There are so many options. Research is endless, though so informative. Time to try out something!
     
  16. GIGA

    GIGA Member

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    Anyway, going back to the thread topic. I want to post this extremely accurate description of the ferrotype process:

    Ferrotyping is the molding of a mirror smooth surface onto the gelatin surface coating of an amulsion. Papers meant for the process have a super-coating of gelatin intended for it. Matte surface papers often have either a texture callendered into the surface or have small particles, for instance talc, imbedded in it. These are not suitable for ferrotyping although it can be done. AFAIK, all "glossy" surfaces were meant to be suitable for ferrotyping although they could be dried plain. A ferrotyped surface has the least surface scattering of light and least diffusion of light transmitted through it, i.e., reflected through the emulsion, therefore this surface gives the largest range of densities of any surface. Also, the lack of diffusion and scattering results in somewhat sharper images. The difference between a glossy surface treated by ferrotyping it and one dried plain is not too great. RC glossy surface does not need ferrotyping and should not be ferrotyped. A really good job of ferrotyping fiber glossy results in a very similar surface but its hard to get one that good. Because the surface treatment of RC is different from fiber there seems to be no eqivalent of RC glossy in fiber paper without the extra step of ferrotyping. Actually, "pearl" type RC surfaces are intended to approximate non-ferrotyped fiber surface. Ferrotyping generally smooths out small irregularities in the surface of the paper so that some papers which dry with somewhat uneven surfaces when not ferrotyped will have a uniform surface when treated. Kodak papers, in my experience, had the most uniform surfaces of any manufacturer. Some, Agfa for instance, could have very non uniform surfaces. I stress that I am writing about "glossy" fiber paper here. In general matte surfaces were more uniform, or, perhaps, the matting covered up the irregularities. Once ferrotyped the surface quality seems to be pretty much the same. The quality of a ferrotyped surface is mostly dependant on the quality of the ferrotype plate. In order to have a high order of gloss the plate must have a mirror finish. I have some plates with a sort of brushed finish and they do not produce true gloss: that is, the surface of the plate is molded into the surface of the paper so that the print surface can not be any better than the plate surface. Good ferrotyping can be done with mirror finish chrome plated tins, with the old style baked enamel (Jappaned) tins, or even with plate glass although this latter is hard to do sucessfully. The last two require the use of wax on the plate and the quality of the polished wax finish will determine the quality of the print surface. Chrome plates do not need to be waxed and should not be. I have read all sorts of trick for obtaining good ferrotyping. These include some contradictory advice. For instance some sources advise giving the print extra hardening and some others treating it with something that softens the surface coating. My own experience is that most times trouble comes from poor plates. They must be absolutely mirror finish and absolutely without a blemish of any sort. Also, they must be spotlessly clean. In the past ferrotyped prints were associated with photofinished snapshots and commercial or publicity pictures, especially those for reproduction. Most of the old style heated dryers had a polished chrome drum so that when prints were dried with the emulsion side against the drum they came out with a glossy surface. Prints could be dried with the surface facing the belt for matte surface prints. Generally prints of the sort mentioned above were made with the idea that the consumer wanted the highest contrast and sharpness possible so the glossy surface was chosen.


    ---
    Richard Knoppow
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
     
  17. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    For anyone who is interested, I just post an offering of two Apollo 18 X 24 ferrotype plates free for the cost of shipping to you in the USA. Large nice condition plates.