foam brush paper coating question

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by buggy, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. buggy

    buggy Member

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    Lately I have been coating with a foam brush. 2 coats. VDB. Cranes kid finish white. I started out with a puddle pusher and just didn't like that technique. My last few prints have looked grainy, not smooth like before. They also have little tiny white dots on the print especially noticeable in the shadow areas. I have been using the same foam brush for awhile now. I do wash it out after each session.

    I am wondering if the roughness and white dots in the print are due to my coating technique, should I be using a new brush for each print? Is it due to overexposing the print?

    Is this a common problem with using foam brushes? Should I get a regular brush?

    Anybody have any ideas on this? If needed I could post the image.
     
  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    As someone once told me when I started learning Palladium printing -

    "Put down the foam brush and step away from the coating area!"

    at least get yourself a nice but inexpensive Hake brush from most art supply stores. Or splurge and get a Richeson 9010 brush. The white dots are probably caused by the foam brush tearing (literally!) up the paper base.
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Or, the dots could be air bubbles formed by the foam brush itself forcing air into the liquid as it coats it. You might try adding a drop or two of surfactant to the liquid before you coat. I have been told that Tween 20 or Tween 80 are useful in these situations.

    PE
     
  4. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    FlyingCamera is correct. The foam brush abrades the paper, especially when double-coating and especially when using a somewhat delicate paper like Cranes Kid. Do yourself a favor and get the Richeson Series 9010 Watercolor Wash brush. If you take care of it, it will last for years and years. Worth every penny and then some. Try http://www.jerrysartarama.com/art-supply-stores/online/2101 for good prices on these brushes.
     
  5. Kimberly Anderson

    Kimberly Anderson Member

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    Listen to Master Kerik...he speaks the truth!
     
  6. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Richeson Series 9010 is the way... Dump that sponge! You'll find your sensitizer will go a lot further. Untill the Richeson comes, go to the local art supply store and get yourself a synthetic watercolor brush. Mine works almost as nicely as the 9010.

    Good Luck!

    Bill
     
  7. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

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    just to reiterate what kerik and flyingcamera said, I know exactly what you are experiencing Buggy, I noticed similiar effects with Kid Finish paper when double coating VDB with a foam brush. I learned this the hard way... always had to touch the stove to know it was hot.
    I used a foam brush at first for almost all of my alt printing and when I compared it to the smoothness of the richeson brush (or coating rod) its night and day. Go with "day"
    :smile:
     
  8. buggy

    buggy Member

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    Thank you all very much. As Theflyingcamera and Kerik indicate it is literally tearing or abrading the paper. That is exactly what it looks likes. When I am coating it even sounds like it is abrading the paper. And Matt, you mention the coating rod and richeson give a smoothness to the print, the few times I've used the coating rod, even though I really don't like using it, my images were very smooth with no problems.

    Thanks all for your input, you made my day!
     
  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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  10. buggy

    buggy Member

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    Thanks again everyone. My foam brushes are in the trash and a richeson is on the way!
     
  11. EricNeilsen

    EricNeilsen Member

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    I have been using foam brushes for over 24 years. I ran test against puddle pushers, hake brushes, "magic brushes" and none were nessacarily better than a foam brush. The foam brush must be fresh, not those with large cell structure typical of plastic handled foam brushes, and replaced often. That is especially true if you use ammonium based chemistry. If you are getting problem with your coating technique, you were not properly shown how to use it. It will not work on all papers but to dismiss them out right, shows a lack of broad coating techniques. How many coating can you expect to get out of a single brush? 5 to 10 prints. How many days? no more than 5. Of course, your milage may vary.

    Just another view.
     
  12. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    This brush longevity remark reminds me of conversation I had the other day with a master printer who does bespoke platinum printing for a lot of big name photographers. He has a 4 inch Richeson that he has been using for 6 years. He estimates that it has made at least 15,000 prints so far and is still going strong. Not a bad deal when you calculate the cost per print!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2006
  13. Michael Mutmansky

    Michael Mutmansky Member

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    I'm sure I could make a Brillo pad work for coating, but there are some brushes that are so naturally suited for this task that to me it is illogical to fight using them.

    I've probably made 750 or more coats with my 2" Richeson, and while it doesn't look new, it functions like new. It works vastly better then a rod for double coating, and much better than a hake or foam for any task that I've tried, and it uses much less solution than either of these brushes as well.

    Everyone must choose their own path, and ultimately, nobody has to justify their own decisions to anyone but themselves, but for quality and consistancy, I find the Richeson brushes to be second to none, and fairly easy to master aas well.


    ---Michael
     
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  15. EricNeilsen

    EricNeilsen Member

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    Michael, Since a brillo pad, at least the ones that I have seen, are steel wool, that would be a grand feat! But yes, we all need to find our own tools that fit your work habits and style. THere are some papers that just won't allow for the use of a foam brush, for sure. Sometimes it is not a cost issue, but also one of contamination. If you only use it for a particular mix, a single brush is great, or even several mixes, but there can be times when a additional coating solution will be time consuming to remove from the brush. Simply grab a new one. Foam brushes can also get people in the door to alt printing where later they can fully invest in more appropriate tools of the trade.
     
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Eric- if someone is spending the $150 or so that it takes to get a starter kit of chemicals for Pt/Pd printing, and $50 for a package of COT 320, I don't think spending another $20 for a good brush is going to stop them from doing it. Getting lousy results because they cheaped out and used a foam brush may make them quit, however. Especially if the foam brush absorbs too much chemistry itself and they're making 50% fewer prints due to materials attrition. Just as I'd never tell someone who wants to learn about fstops and shutter speeds to START with a Holga, I wouldn't tell someone who wants to learn alt processes to start with a foam brush.
     
  17. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    I'm curious about the metal ferrule used in a Richeson brush. I read somewhere that for alt processes one should avoid brushes with metal that might contaminate the print. For that reason I chose a good quality Japanese brush, which appears to be working well for me.
     
  18. EricNeilsen

    EricNeilsen Member

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    Your milage may vary! Because it is possible to get lousy prints withy a foam brush, don't teach it? I have made many thousands of prints using foam brushes and they are far from lousy. What is it that gets some of you so worked up about foam brushes? If I could not see a difference between the quality of prints that I made with a foam brush, a hake brush, puddle pusher, etc, if I can get some one started for .65 why not? The prints that I make have been sold all over the place. And for well known photographers.

    the reality of it is that one can make excellent prints with a foam brush. If you prefer another way or can't make a excellent print with one, so be it.

    Happy printing!
    Eric
     
  19. Michael Koch-Schulte

    Michael Koch-Schulte Member

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    Chuck that foam brush and buy a bag of them. They're cheap. They don't last forever. I agree with Eric on this one. Different styles of brushes work differently on different papers and work differently on different emulsions. Coat some test strips with a rod, foam brush and a hake and you'll see variations good and bad. I once thought I should do everything with a rod -- well you find out pretty quick that you can't. Some papers like to curl or warp making them unsuitable for rod coating. Some papers don't achieve a decent shadow density with anything BUT a foam brush. Some emulsions like gum hate foam brushes but like hakes. It might be interesting to try combo coating some papers ie. 1st pass rod - 2nd pass hake or 1st hake - 2nd foam brush etc. Also if you're double coating VDB you could try thinning the first coat with a couple of extra drops of water, then once that's dry do a full strength coat. You might also want to invest in a bottle of Tween 20. I find that making a stock dilution of different ratios can save (or destroy) an emulsion - paper - brush combo.
     
  20. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    You have to realize that at the major manufacturers we didn't use foam brushes or paint brushes for making hand coatings, we used coating blades.

    FWIW, you can never achieve production quality with anything but a coating blade.

    OTOH, to reproduce the 'art' look or the look of the early days of photography, there is nothing like a brush of some sort.

    In other words, there is a place for everything depending on what look you want to achieve.

    PE
     
  21. Shinnya

    Shinnya Advertiser Advertiser

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    Ron,

    Can I possibly coat Pt/Pd with one of your blades? Have you tried with other kinds of sensitizers with them?

    I am just wondering... Thanks.

    Warmly,
    Tsuyoshi


     
  22. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Ok- perhaps lousy was the wrong adjective. Inconsistent and unpredictable results might have been more appropriate. I stand by my comment about teaching with the more refined tool first - let the student learn proper technique that will get them a consistent result first, then show them a variety of tools that will produce varying results. It's about controlling the medium. When you teach someone to paint, you don't start them off with a palette knife as their primary brush. You start them with a decent paintbrush. When they've mastered that technique, then you show them different tools to achieve different effects.
     
  23. EricNeilsen

    EricNeilsen Member

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    Perhaps, the answer lies in your first response, "When I first started learning... step away." I do not get inconsistent or unpredictable results using a foam brush and neither should anyone else. The are quite predictable. Your statement still implys that foam brushes are some how improper. One can certainly learn improper techniques for any tool and some tools fit a particular persons style and personality better. Materful images can be made with Holga, Linhofs, Leicas et la. Tools are only a beginning that start one down an avenue that opens the door to expression.

    I don't start my students out on expensive paper and expensive brushes. I start them out with the knowledge to grow into their own expression. They will have lots of time to practice coating later. they have limited time with me and get feed back.

    As for volume of coating solution for foam brushes? a Starting point is 20 drops of ferric and 20 drops of metal salts but that varies with paper type and what type of edges one is looking for in a print. Many times printers will give themselves 1 to 2 inch brush strokes, thereby greatly increasing the need for coating solution. Cot 320 requires less as does Arches platine, some papers more. Before use can really say how much volume of solution do you need, you must first ask how much do I really need to coat? a 20, 20 drop count is for papers such as Cranes with a generous 1 in over coating.

    Thinner coatings will be faster but run the risk of being less able to give you a good dmax. A chemical that produces images of inferior quality even in small amount is potassium chlorate. Many printers are taught to use it. And if they are taught that with a foam brush? is it the brush or the chlorate responsible for an ugly print?

    I try to teach and share what I know. Flying Camera, I have not seen your prints and only have been checking in here a little, but I can tell you are passionate about your craft. I keep puddle pushers, Formulary Rods, Hake brushes, foam brushes,and Magic Richeson brush for students to try, but I first show most of them the foam brush with an explanation as to what to look for when coating. I bring 24 years of platinum/palladium experience to the lessons.

    Eric
     
  24. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Just another point of view, although I've only been platinum printing for 17 years...

    Foam brushes work ok on relatively hard-surfaced, smooth papers that don't require double coating or lots of brushwork to get the sensitizer into the paper. High probability for abrasion.

    Coating rods work well for smooth, hard-surfaced papers that are substantial enough to not buckle when wet. Low probability of abasion.

    I have not found a paper that does not coat beautifully with a Richeson Magic Brush (or similar). From the thinnest vellums to medium weight papers that buckle to papers with lots of surface texture to the smooth, thicker papers like COT and Platine. Zero probability of abasion.

    For me, there is never an advantage to using a foam brush. Yes, you can make them work, but why? I stopped using them for my own work and in workshops years ago. I always provide instruction on the use of coating rods and Richesons, then let the students find their own way from there. I would guess 80 to 90 percent of my students prefer the Richeson brush. I've had many students come to workshops who have used foam brushes before. 100% of them prefer either the glass rod or the RMB. There are better ways to cut printing costs than saving a few bucks on a brush that can be used for thousands of prints.
     
  25. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I agree with Kerik. There is no question in my mind but that one can make good prints coating with a foam brush, but there is a definite risk of abrasion with soft papers, especially with double coating, and the foam brushes always require slighly more sensitizer than the Richeson or a coating rod. And coating rods are almost useless when double coating is involved.

    The Richeson brush is the best IMO, and I highly recommend it to anyone starting out in hand coated processes such as VDB, kallitype and Pt./Pd.

    Sandy


     
  26. EricNeilsen

    EricNeilsen Member

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