Hostile cyanotype enviroment

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by quiver, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. quiver

    quiver Member

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    As the title suggests I have a problem with cyanotypes. All papers in my area are buffered and the water in my area could qualify as liquid rock. Is there any hope for this process for me. I have tried acidifying both paper and the water but prints still keep on fading away. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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  3. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Quiver, before commenting, I'd like to learn (a.) how have you acidified your paper and water and (b.) what paper do you use?

    The best method for acidifying the paper is to *not do it at all*, I mean just use something else; most cheap / student grade papers aren't buffered. (Usually...)

    Regards,
    Loris.
     
  4. Ironage

    Ironage Member

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    Yup, got that problem in my town. My solution is using a first developer of distilled vinegar. Just use it until the blue is clear and then wash in tap water after. Best results ever.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. WillL

    WillL Member

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    I've made many hundreds of cyanotypes in central Florida where the water is quite hard. After testing many papers, I've settled on Arches Aquarelle water color paper as a decent paper that gives good results. You should be able to find that readily. I add 1/2 gram of oxalic acid (wood bleach at the hardware store) to each 100 ml. of solutions A and B to help counteract the effects of alkaline water. Have you measured your water's ph level? That would help offer meaningful advice and allow meaningful comparisons to other's working conditions.
     
  6. quiver

    quiver Member

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    I attempted to acidify by coating white vinegar with a foam brush. After this dried the paper smelled neutral or at least not acid. Added vinegar to water. I have a softener but that only exchanges Na for Ca and Mg. I used Southworth Cotton Paper and GP card stock. I might try Crayola watercolor/marker paper later. Wal-Mart and Staples are my only paper sources around here.
     
  7. quiver

    quiver Member

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    Willl,

    Never heard or seen that paper around here. Where do you find it in your area. It might give me a clue where to look.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2012
  8. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Quiver, try to acidify the paper with 1+30 diluted (in case of 30-35%) hydrochloric (muriatic) acid, it's more effective. Also, develop in drinking water and only then rinse in normal tap water. (Which - maybe - was gently acidified with a pinch of citric acid / few drops of hydrochloric acid...) Again, don't acidify paper if you aren't absolutely sure that it is alkaline buffered indeed, and still, opt to source non-buffered papers instead of acidification. (Student grade papers usually aren't buffered...)

    Hope this helps,
    Loris.
     
  9. WillL

    WillL Member

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    Lois Medici, FWIW, our studio's paper supplier/wholesale sale agents tell us that pretty much every paper made these days is alkaline buffered with calcium carbonate. Dr. Mike Ware's alt photography website talks at length about the difficulties of finding non-buffered papers and how the St. Cuthbert's Mill papers were specifically formulated to get around this too common malady with modern papers. Modern papermakers have had to change the chemistry of the paper making process to comply with environmental laws in most countries. From what I've read, it used to be that paper making took place in an acidic environment that made great paper but created environmentally problematic acidic effluent. Today's papermaking process is more environmentally benign but the paper requires alkaline buffering to remain ph neutral over time. I've verified this with Arche's paper mill's representives, they assured me that the Arches Aquarelle is indeed alkaline buffered.

    Quiver, if you are going to have success with cyanotype, you're going to have to mail order your supplies it seems. Staples and Walmart aren't going to have any paper suitable for making alt photography processes. Any mail order art supply place will carry Arches papers. Daniel Smith, Utrecht, Dick Blick, Cheap Joes, all of these businesses supply Arches. I've found cold press watercolor paper to work better than hot press if you want an even coating and deep blues. However, for photographs with fine detail, hot press gives better resolution. If you need to order chemicals, I order from artcraftchemicals.com, Bostick & Sullivan, or The Photographer's Formulary. BTW, swabbing vinegar over paper and letting dry isn't going to acidify paper, that's too weak to do any good. Something stronger like Lois Medici suggest is called for. (You can easily get hydrochloric acid in the concentration he mentions, it's sold as "Muriatic Acid" in hardware stores and swimming pool supply stores.) The advice to use non-alkaline water to develop and tap water to rinse is good advice. (In my studio practice, I can't do this practically though, as we tend to work too large to do this. We regularly make cyanotypes up to 51" x 8 feet in length. Thus the need to acidify the paper with oxalic acid.)
     
  10. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    WillL, not every paper is alkaline buffered actually. For instance: Canson Montval, Awagami Masa, Weston Diploma Parchment, Fabriano Disegno 5, Whatman Watercolor, Bergger COT 320 are papers that did great cyanotypes for me - I mean w/o any extra acidification step...

    Regards,
    Loris.
     
  11. WillL

    WillL Member

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    Loris, thanks for your specifics on the various papers. I'm not trying to be argumentative here, just trying to get accurate information about this subject. Can you tell me how you know the specific papers you mention are non-buffered in their current production runs? Canson's website has product specifications and they now say that Montval watercolor paper IS buffered. I've contacted Fabriano twice in the last year asking for information about which of their products are buffered and they refuse to provide this information. Can't imagine why they won't answer this simple question? Even though a paper mill tries to achieve a consistent supply of raw materials, I wonder if different batches of paper pulp and fiber have differing ph levels that require varying amounts of buffering levels to achieve archival stability. Maybe this would account for the often repeated accounts of papers that work great in one printing session and then quit behaving well when they're from a different manufacturing run? We buy the Arches Aquarelle mainly in 51" x 10 meter rolls, usually ten or twelve rolls at a time. I definitely notice differences in paper color and printing behavior from batch to batch. Sometimes the paper is very consistent and sometimes I have to throw away 50% of the prints I make depending on any given roll.
     
  12. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    WillL, it's empiric information: they all print well with Cyanotype? (That's our actual subject right?) BTW, some print well with Argyrotype and New Cyanotype too - the most finicky processes when it comes to paper choice... In any case, a 1-3% HCl bath for 2-5 minutes and a good rinse (3-5 water changes, 10-15 minutes...) will take care of calcium carbonate buffer for sure, BUT with the expense of decreasing the paper's longevity. (By the action of HCl severing some bonds within the cellulose structure - the longer the treatment, the more serious the damage will be.)

    Can't you request a sample from the batch, before committing for such a big amount of (155 square meters; equiv. to 155 A0 / 620 A2 sheets!!!) paper?

    Regards,
    Loris.
     
  13. WillL

    WillL Member

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    You are so right about the New Cyanotype chemistry being finicky about paper! I have successfully printed traditional cyanotypes on several papers I know are internally buffered though. Not sure why some work and others don't though. Maybe the internal buffering is more sequestered from the surface in some papers due to more sizing?

    We do test papers in small quantities before buying larger orders, definitely. BTW, which of the papers you mentioned have you had success with using the New Cyanotype?

    I had written Bergger in France and asked them about buffering in their COT 320 and heard back from them today. They say it is "internally buffered to ph 6.6 without NaOH."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2012
  14. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Hi WillL, Awagami Masa and Bergger COT 320 were the two papers that worked extremely well with both New Cyanotype and Argyrotype. Weston Diploma Parchment also worked OK (New Cyanotype) with only a very very faint / practically non disturbing background fog...

    Regards,
    Loris.
     
  15. quiver

    quiver Member

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    I found that the crayola paper works for cyanotype but it is easy to tare when wet and requires special handling. I might check the local drug store for other possible papers.