Has anyone else here tried Gumoil?

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by DarkroomDan, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. DarkroomDan

    DarkroomDan Subscriber

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    I recently got Karl Koenig's book "Gumoil Photographic Printing". I have never seen an actual Gumoil print, only Karl's work online.

    I am at the early stages of trying to learn the process and, so far, it has kicked my butt.

    For those not familar with the process, the short description is:
    1) Coat paper with a solution of gum arabic and potassium dichromate (like gum dichromate print but without the pigment). Let dry. Coat it again. Let dry.
    2) Contact print a positive to the paper under a UV light.
    3) "Develope" in plain water until gum mix is removed from shadow areas. Let dry.
    4) Apply first coat of oil paint (in my case Lamp Black).Let soak in.
    5) Take paper towels and rags and rub and rub and rub and etc. If you have done everything right so far, you now have an unusual looking high contrast print. Let dry.
    6) Etch some of the remaing hardend gum in a household bleach and water solution. Them wash print removing alot of the surface oil paint and more of the gum. Let dry.
    7) Apply a coat of another color of oil paint and yada yada yada.

    OK - the gist of this is, this is a labor intensive process. When done right, it can produce unique prints of stark beauty. See some of Karl's work at http://www.gumoil.com/
    So far, I am not getting squat.

    My first two attempts I single coated the paper and things looked good until I etched them. Too much image disappeared and the second application of paint (Payne's Gray as recommend in the book) left me with a black rectangle that no amount of rubbing improved.

    My second two prints I 1) double coated the gum mix. 2) Increased the print time (same for both) and 3) Decreased the etch time (less etching for 4 than 3). #3 was again a black rectangle. #4 I changed the paint to Burnt Umber. After removing as much paint as I was able, I can see the first black image through an undifferentiated layer of brown.

    I am just not getting this to work beyond the first application of paint. I realize that this is hardly an intensive exploration of the process. It is, however, enough to be frustrating.

    Has anyone here had any sucess with this process? Karl's book is a mite thin on specifics. I could use some clues from someone who has suceeded with this. I will post specific questions to anyone who can help.
     
  2. Kate Mocak

    Kate Mocak Member

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    I made several attempts... with the same results as you :sad:. I followed the description which is on www.alternativephotography.com. I thought I failed to produce something at least very remotely similar to Karl's beautiful prints because I didn't have the book and didn't read about all the details and tricks (which I expect a book should mention).

    So I returned back to gum bichromate process.
    Kate
     
  3. donbga

    donbga Member

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    I have the book and I agree that the book doesn't really give enough info, but I've not tried the process yet.

    Did you contact Karl?

    You might try asking your question on the alt process mail list. I've been on the list for years and years and do no recall the process being discussed much. I think Koenig used to post there. You might look in the list early archives.

    Don Bryant
     
  4. DarkroomDan

    DarkroomDan Subscriber

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    Kate,

    Thanks for the reply. I am not ready to give up yet but it is tempting. I have tried a lot of processes and have never run into a series of complete failures like this. I didn't expect to turn out good prints in short order but did expect I would be able to make recognizable bad prints.

    My next attempts I plan to try printing much harder and further reducing the strength and time in the bleach etch. I will also try a more gentle wash after the bleach. with the first coating of paint I can see that the paint is getting into the paper in the cleared spots and riding on the gum in the other areas. So far, after bleaching, though I can see gum on the paper, it does not protect the paper. My guess is that for reasons to be determined, I do not have enough gum left. I have rebleached some of my black rectangles to see if, as after the first application, paint would wash off - it does not.

    If I get anywhere with this, I will post my results and attach a print.

    Dan Williams
     
  5. DarkroomDan

    DarkroomDan Subscriber

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    Don,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I do read the alt-photo list and don't recall ever seeing a gumoil thread. I will search the archives, I had forgotten about them.

    Dan williams
     
  6. BirgerA

    BirgerA Subscriber

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    Hello Dan

    I tried Gumoil a few years ago with partial success. What I did to get an image was the following:

    Make a mixture of gum arabic and potassium bichromate in the relationship 3:1.
    Single coat a Fabriano paper (I don't recall which) with this and then expose.
    Add black oil paint and let it sit for approx 15 minutes before wiping it off.
    I then let the image dry for a few days before I bleached it (I seem to recall 10% bleach and 1 minute) and added paynes grey.

    I believe that the main thing was to get the gum arabic/bichromate ratio right.

    Hope this helps

    Regards
    Birger
     
  7. Neil Poulsen

    Neil Poulsen Member

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    Thanks!

    Thanks for all the replies. There are a lot of good options out there, very reasonably priced.

    I think I'm leaning towards a couple of MyWeigh scales. One that comes with a breeze cover and an accuracy of 0.005 grams (100 gm max) for small quantities and a triple beam scale for weighing large quantities.

    Has anyone tested linearity on these inexpensive balances that weigh very small quantities, like with a set of weights to see if combinations of weights weigh the same as the sum of their individual weights?
     
  8. DarkroomDan

    DarkroomDan Subscriber

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    Birger,

    Thanks for the reply. Most everything you did is thae same as I. but I have not had any success. I plan to try again this weekend.

    I use the same gum to sensitizer ratio - this is what Karl recommends. My double coat was slightly better than my single coat so I will stick with it. In my edition of the book, Karl recommends 1:6 water:bleach in hi "Further Notes". That is what I used. Your time between the first bleach and the second application of paint is significantly longer than I allowed. I will give this a try. Also, your bleach time is less than I used - this I think may be critical.

    What I believe is happening is that I am not maintaining a sufficient layer of gum after the first bleach. My intention now is to continue double coating and to increase the amount of hardened gum by increasing my exposure - I may also vary my negative density range. I will decrease the strength and time of my bleach.

    I will try these variables of several prints so that if I get improvements, I have an idea what caused them.

    I know that the process works. Karl has produced some incredible prints. I don't think he is withholding details, I think the process is subject to so many variables that the printer needs experience to judge and react.

    As I said in an earlier post, if I get anywhere, I will post my results here.
     
  9. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

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    Hi,

    during the last week I started too working around this process. I bought Mr. Koenig's book... But I'm a little bit disappointed because despite its high cost (50$) it's a little superficial and little technical in some important parts such as printing troubleshooting for example.

    Anyway, the tecnique in itself is very interesting, as it's somewhat in between oilprints and gum bichromate. I tried gum bichromates last year without any success. Then I got hooked by bromoils (also colored ones) and forgot about gum bichromates.

    Now I really want to make to make at least one successfull gumoil print.

    I tried the following:

    1) Got a 5% potassium bichromate solution, mixed 1:3 with gum arabic.
    2) Double coated with a brush some sheets of Fabriano watercolor paper (of course papers where dried before second coating)
    3) Exposed several test strips with a positive and a self made 300W UV BL printing box. I tried different exposure times, ranging from 1' to 20'. Normally with my box a cyanotype takes 20' to expose, for comparison. Potassium dichromate should be much faster.
    4) "Developed" the prints carefully in ambient temperature water. I tried from 2' to 10' development time in water. Probably a good time is 2' to 3', if I overwash the prints too much of the gum goes away. I too little as just as 1' there are residuals on the paper.
    5) Let dry the paper(s)
    6) When bone dry, I worked in some oil paint (windsor & newton lamp black) with a finger (tried also with a sponge, finger works best).
    7) After 15' I rub the prints removing the excess oil paint with a lot of toilet paper and much strenght.

    The result is awful. The images, whatever the exposure time was, have just a little bit of shadows (deepest black areas) and no midtones. There's no way to achieve a midtone, a grey tone or whatever. The image itself is very very rough... I don't expect that such prints have to be detailed... but mine are too far away even for a gum bichromate / gumoil standard.

    So far I'm pointing my finger at the gum. Perhaps it is too thin for the process. In his book Koenig writes that a too weak arabic gum can produce too thin prints. And then he suggest to add some harder and more viscous powdered gum. But then he says that double coating can overcome the problem in the same way...

    I can't find powdered arabic gum at the moment. But I have some gelatin here. Should I try using gelatin instead of arabic gum? If nobody else is using gelatin for gum bichromate or gumoils there must be a reason, though...

    Anyone else has some suggestion?
     
  10. paxette

    paxette Member

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    I'm just learning how to do this as well and I succeeded in doing a horrid but recognizable print. I've been doing pretty much what everyone else has and getting pretty much the same result. I tried using some Aquarello 230gsm CP rough and didn't like what I saw and found Lanaquarelle 140lbs CP to be more promising. I think my problem is the negatives or not enough gum.

    Wish I could help but I'm still fumbling along.
     
  11. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

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    I think one key issue could be the gum rather than the paper (as long it is high quality cotton based).

    Mr Koenig in his book says that gum below 14 baume degrees might produce too thin results. And suggests to use powdered gum to be mixed by yourself, instead of ready made gum. By the way he also says that Windsor and Newton should be ok and that's the one I used so far. I tried double coating too, without any change in the result. I used both digital positives and real film positives with the same, awful, results.

    I'm wondering perhaps I could mix the gum with some albumen as described in the temperaprint process (it's a process similar to gum bichromate that uses acrylics instead of oil paints, check alternativephotography website for info). That could make the gum substrate thiker, but might cause new problems as well ...

    I also wrote to Mr Koenig, but I didn't get any answer yet. Does he actually post somewhere in places like APUG?

    cheers
     
  12. paxette

    paxette Member

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    Fulvio, I think it might have been the exposure time in my case.

    The book recommends around 6 minutes (which I've done before) but today I did 4 prints, two single coated and two double coated. Two were exposed for 8 minutes and two for 12. I based it on the exposure times people have used to develop cyanotypes found on alternativephotography.com. I'm north of Arizona so I figured I should adjust my exposure times to compensate.

    My transparency doesn't work at all, it's far too flat and the 12 minute exposure was impossible to clear (I still have dichromate stain in the gum). But the paper negative exposed for 12 minutes yeilded an excellent negative - my best thus far. I'm going to try a single coated gum tommorow at the same time for 12 minutes to see how much of a difference there is.

    I'm using ready mixed gum (14 degree baume) but I'm going to order some powdered gum if this print fails once I've inked it up and done that part of the process.

    Least I know I'm now heading in the right direction (I think or is that hope?)

    ps:

    "1) Got a 5% potassium bichromate solution, mixed 1:3 with gum arabic."

    This is just a guess but the book says to use a 10% solution which might be why nothing is working for you.
     
  13. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

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    I do all my exposures with a UV printing box I made myself. With cyanotypes, oilprints and saltprints works great. Once I tried also photopolymergravure with a friend and it's also fine. It does the job also with gumoil... The fact is that right after exposure the "negative" on the paper looks great: a lot of tones and details... But then, when I wash it most of the prints i gone along with the gum arabic. If I prolong exposure times it doesn't change much, in the end I still got a crappy print.

    Mmmm... I don't think so. The book is a little bit confusing (like in many other parts). In the chapter about paper & coating it says to prepare a saturated solution of potassium bichromate. But then says that it is a stock solution. In the end of the book there's a quick list of what do to for producing gumoils and it's clearly written "5%". By the way I was confused in the beginning too... Because he talked about this saturated potassium bichromate solution... Then I read the end of the book and got even more confused. So I tried with both 5% and 10%, but this detail doesn't solve my problem, it affects only exposure time. I believe that 5% is the correct amount indicated by the author.

    bye
     
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  15. hmr28

    hmr28 Member

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    gumoil

    I just purchased the book, but after reading your posts I'm not sure where to start! Has anyone here yet produced a decent print?

    HMR
     
  16. donbga

    donbga Member

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    FWIW, I just received this e-mail from Karl a day or two ago.

    I am sending this to you as one who has indicated an interest in learning the gumoil print-making process in a workshop setting. I plan to have two workshops in Albuquerque at my 121 Wellesley Ave SE studio. The two separate shops will take two days over two different weekends. Workshop #1 will be held on Saturday and Sunday October 7 and 8. Workshop #2 will be held on Saturday and Sunday October 21 and 22. If neither of these dates is convenient for you, let me know and I will consider offering a further date later on in the year. For the moment, however, these are what I will have on offer. The cost will be 600.00 per person and I will supply materials, oils, paper, etc.


    The maximum enrollment per workshop is 5 people. The minimum is 4 people. If I do not have a guaranteed (i.e., pre-paid) 4 enrollees, the workshop will be cancelled. The sooner you send me a check and guarantee a place the quicker I can let you know if the workshop will be held.




    There are plenty of motels within easy walking or driving distance and lots of restaurants nearby in the Nob Hill district. The University of New Mexico is not far away, either.


    You will need to prepare a transparency (at least one) in b/w of the size image you want to print in gumoil and bring that with you. The maximum size paper I will supply is 11x15 inches so your transparency will need to be smaller than this. I will send more info to those who register by sending me a check.


    [size=+1]Make your check payable to Karl P. Koenig and mail it to me at: 6435 Nabor Road NW, Albuquerque, NM, 87107. Phone 5053444429.[/size]


    It would be helpful if you have my book "Gumoil Photographic Printing" published by Focal Press, Boston and available through all major book sellers. There is a first edition in 1994 (no computer info) and a revised edition in 1999 (which covers making interpositive transparencies on the computer). Either one would be helpful to you. I can send a more complete biblio of various articles, etc. on request.


    Sincerely, Karl


    PS Let me know if you want off this mailing list
     
  17. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

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    I tried, but did not succeed.

    I tried with both 5% and 10% potassium dichromate sensitizing.

    I tried with windsor & newton gum and also with self made gum solution (alone or mixed as a thickener with the windsor & newton one).

    I tried several kinds of paper: Fabriano F5, Fabriano Artistico, Schoelleshammer and some other I don't remember...

    Yes, the principle works: potassium dichromate hardens the gum that becomes impossible to remove with water. But I have almost no midtones. Just black and white, the contrast is extremely high. The midtone areas are messed up with a lot of random pigment. I also made a special digital negative using a rasterization effect (there was only pure blacks and whites in it, in order to produce an halftone image), but that did not make a huge difference.

    Frankly I do not know what is wrong. I'm sure I've read the book correctly. The book is poorly made, not really technical compared to others, lacks of a troubleshooting chapter/section, sometimes contradicts itself or makes confusion (like when it says to prepare the dichromate solutions, it says to make a saturated stock potassium dichromate solution, then later in the appendix says to use a 5% working solution). The book is also very expensive, compared to other alt.photo books, it's economically printed and there are only few full color images inside.

    I wrote Mr Koenig a short email asking him some informations, but he never replied. I'm sure he would have replied if I were offering him money to buy another book or ask for joining one of his workshop...
     
  18. paxette

    paxette Member

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    Thanks donbga but I raided the piggy bank in order to get the supplies to try my hand at this.

    I've completed one half decent print (successful enough that I'm not cursing Koenigs name)

    I double coated the gum mixture on Arches Aquarella using a paper negative (which I compressed slightly in PS before printing) then exposed for 6 minutes mid afternoon under clear sky's. I didn't bleach the print afterwards or do anything else to it, it's my "I can do this" example when I get discouraged - heh.

    I'm finding that choosing the right negative is really important since every other attempt I've made has yielded duds.
     
  19. John_Brewer

    John_Brewer Member

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    http://www.lawrence.co.uk/ sell 500gm for £6.94 plus delivery. If they won't ship to you, drop me a pm and I'll buy it and send it on to you.

    J
     
  20. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

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    I think it is a good picture.

    How did you wash/develop the hardened (exposed) gum?

    Also, what do you mean paper negative? Do you mean a print from the darkroom or by computer or it is a digital negative on trasparency?

    Which kind/brand of oil color did you use?

    Forgive me for all these questions, but I've tried hard at this process and my best picture wasn't close to yours at all...

    cheers
     
  21. paxette

    paxette Member

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    Thanks.

    I let it sit in the bath water until the dichromate leeched into the water. Then I had water slowly trickle into the tray until the dichromate cleared which I found took less time to happen than what Karl suggests. I didn't hose the image down after the dichromate cleared either, I'm finding even with a double coat of the gum mixture it's still a tad thin (I'm laying it on quite thickly) and the gum washes away easily. The other thing I noticed is, if you tilt the paper you'll see a bias relief of the image which helps to determine if you need to wash it some more or have gone too far.

    It's a digital negative (actually a positive on paper) printed on cheap office paper with a ink jet printer. I've tried transparency film but thus far all the gumoil prints from those transparencies have been duds. I know next to nothing about making digital prints so I'm kinda winging it while I learn.

    I had an ancient tube of Van Gogh, Ivory Black kicking around so I used that.

    No problem :smile:
     
  22. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

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    ahaha... this might explain...
    I want to try too with an inkjet paper positive... or perhaps a paper positive from the darkroom...

    as for the gum... did you use powdered gum or the liquid ready made one?

    thanks a lot, I want to try again now!
     
  23. paxette

    paxette Member

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    I use premixed liquid gum.

    Also, for places to look for powdered gum, try art supply stores that offer printmaking supplies (like intaglio and lithography), eg: Daniel Smith, they should have it since gum arabic is needed for some of those processes too.
     
  24. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

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    it's alright, I found and tried powdered gum, but I didn't see any difference...

    I will try with the paper positive thing, who knows..
     
  25. BirgerA

    BirgerA Subscriber

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  26. hobbit

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