Flexicolor Prints

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by holmburgers, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I'm curious if anyone knows about "flexicolor prints". It has nothing to do with Kodak Flexicolor chemistry, but it's an older process. The only reference/mention I have is in a paper on how to duplicate flexicolor prints with dye-transfer materials. It appears that at the time of this paper, flexicolor materials had been discontinued, and so an alternate method was suggested.

    Anyways, I have no idea what it is. Some sort of imbition process I think, and that's about it. I google it but end up with nothing but C-41/Flexicolor links.

    Thanks!
     
  2. George Nova Scotia

    George Nova Scotia Subscriber

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    I wonder if it is referring to "Ektaflex" it was an old process from the early '80s marketed to home users. A film was exposed, then coupled with the paper and put thru a processor with an activater solution. Then the two parts were peeled apart for the final print. Here's some info and pictures.

    http://books.google.ca/books?id=XBZ...MQ6AEwBDgK#v=onepage&q=kodak ektaflex&f=false

    I think I may have the processor around somewhere.
     
  3. AgX

    AgX Member

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    It was an imbibition process. PM me for details.
     
  4. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Thanks George. I think I know what you're referring to and I don't think that's it. Though, that is a unique process in itself! Sorta seems like it was a flash in the pan though.

    PM sent to AgX, I'll report back with the details.
     
  5. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Flexicolor film was a stripping film with a matrix film emulsion coated on it. You exposed through the base, developed in a tanning developer, and then washed off the unhardened image while also stripping off the emulsion. The emulsion was then transferred to a white paper support and rolled flat. When dry, Flexicolor dyes were used to paint in the image. The image could be left as is as a print, or it could be transferred to another surface. The dyes were derivatives of Dye Transfer dyes, but came in about a 1 dozen set of combined colors in tiny jars.

    I have a dye set and the manuals for this process. I made a number of Flexicolor prints back in the 50s.

    PE
     
  6. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Though the correct designation is Flexichrome.

    The image forming layer was as PE said a transferred gelatin layer. But this on itself was dyed proportionally to its hardening in a diffusion process. This is strictly speaking not an imbibition process as I called it, as that includes the second stage of transferring the image to a special receptive layer by diffusion, the actual imbibition process. But as it is referred to at imbibition processes I did so too.


    EDIT:


    Strictly speaking it was a wash-off hand colouring process.
    The choice of colour (hue) and section of image to be coloured was deliberate.
    The density of colour however was controlled by the, temporarily grey tinted, wash-off-relief it was brushed on.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2010
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Yes, AgX is indeed correct. It is called "Flexichrome, a Kodak Color Manual" on the cover of the book in 2 lines. I went and got it out.

    Thanks.

    PE
     
  8. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Fascinating,

    So it allows for some amount of "pictorial" control in that you can apply swaths of color selectively? Seems like a great way to get kind of a story-board or comic look.

    How was it marketed? Was it designed with this painterly effect in mind or was it a crude attempt at natural color?

    Defender seems to have been quite fond of stripping films; there's another process that uses chemical toning and 3 stripping films.

    I'll have to reread the paper that I referenced in the initial post and make sense of it's use w/ DT, but sounds like an interesting process the likes of which I've never seen.

    Thanks both for your wisdom!
     
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Flexichrome film was sold in sheets only IIRC. The entire picture was painted, and the brush strokes did not show up. There was a black dye that they sold that was used as the "K" image so that you had the option of what amounted to "CMY" or "CMYK" imaging. I've used both. I think I still have a bottle of the Modeling Dye here as well as the boxed dye set.

    There were etchants that removed the gelatin relief and reducers that bleached applied dyes. The film used the same process solutions as Matrix films, but with slightly different steps.

    The manual shows several examples of photos that have small or large variations in color.

    PE
     
  10. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    And yet there was no transfer step, so the matrix had to be painted white on the back or what exactly? The paper I keep alluding to mentions painting the back of a matrix film with white vinyl paint for the background.

    This sounds like a very interesting procedure for sure. Y'know.. I've always thought that hand-toned/tinted pictures were kind of cheesy, but lately I'm thinking there's potential, if the hand holding the brush knows what it's doing.
    :wink:

    Check out these hand-painted portraits called Ivorytypes, Chrystoleums, Transferotypes... no ones certain for sure. It's a discussion on the Art Conservation Yahoo! group.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kadisikka/5238156293/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kadisikka/5238151177/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kadisikka/5238153113/

    Anyways, a different procedure for sure but same idea. I'd like to see a Flexichrome print.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

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    The "matrix" was either lifted off and laminated to a paper support, or the image itself was transferred to a paper support. I have done both.

    PE
     
  12. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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  13. Photo Engineer

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    In the Google Books reference, look below the right elbow of the painter and you see the box of Flexichrome dyes. I still have a usable set. They are very nice dyes and the process was amenable to many alterations to yield both slides and prints. Omission of the bleach step left a heavier dark image, increasing contrast and density.

    PE
     
  14. colourgeek

    colourgeek Member

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    Lovely prints

    As I understand it, Flexicolor was used in advertising, when colour artwork was always reflection copy. It allows a b&w image to be made into a colour one in a much more convincing way than tinting a sepia bromide print. I have used the Flexichrome dyes to retouch Ektacolor Commercial fibre base prints. They were in tiny screw top white glass jars like mascara, and were soft and waxy, like shoe cream. You applied them with a Q-Tip.

    B.t.w. Ektaflex came out in the early 1980s and was a 10X8 inch colour print material. I printed off 5X4 neg onto a kind of black opaque plastic film. Development was done in a very simple hand cranked machine that passed the film and receiving paper through an alkaline solution and squeegee rollers. After a set time, darkroom lights could go on and the pack be peeled apart. Polaroid sued, because they'd patented every conceivable combination of peeling, transfering and receiving sheet; so the process was withdrawn. I still have a large number of 10X8 prints, and they're one of the most lovely photographic processes I ever used.
     
  15. Photo Engineer

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    I worked on Ektaflex C and R materials. I have a collection of comparison prints with these two and Ciba/Ilfochrome, Radiance, Ektacolor and other color papers.

    PE