How to get precise borders while sensitizing a paper by hand

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Fulvio, Oct 17, 2005.

  1. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

    Messages:
    232
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Location:
    Italy
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    At a first glance, with alternative printing one of the nicest and unusal things to do is to have some irregular handbrushed borders all around the print. It's easy, fun, creative, sometimes helpful... I personally enjoy much those brush strokes, because they remind me that there was nothing on the paper until my hand put something on it.

    But what if one wants perfect borders, just like in a regular, fine-tuned enlarged print?

    A friend of mine asked for a print (a cyanotype) but he doesn't want any trace of brushing on it...

    I'm trying everything. I first masked the borders with a thin black cardboard paper, but it didn't work well at the edges.
    The sandwich was: sensitized paper-->negative-->thin black cardboard-->glass... This combination produced some fogging at the edges. While I'm posting this message I realized that I didn't try the other possible combination (paper-->thin black cardboard-->negative...)... But I'm not very convinced of this solution because in any case it increases the thickness of the sandwich which might reduce the adherence of the negative to the sensitized layer and thus the sharpness of the final print.

    As an alternative, I tried masking the print before it was coated with a magic tape (the one from 3M you can remove without damaging the surface where it's sticked). I sticked the tape and then brushed the sensitizer. Then I dried the sensitized print, removed the tape and exposed it. It worked much better, but some of the sensitizer slipped under the tape... :sad: I tried again pressing the tape, but there's always a chance that sensitizer spills... You cannot really throw away a lot of prints hoping it doesn't do that.

    Anyone has a better idea?

    Someone elsewhere suggested to use a coating rod. But I nerver used a coating rod and neither have one... On the other hand I thought that rod-sensitizing was preferred to achieve an even coating, and not fine-borders...
     
  2. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,865
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    coat the paper as usual.
    buy some rubylith film and cut out the size you wish unmasked area to be. say if its an 8x10 negative the opening might be 7-3/4" x 9-3/4" then center it all together.... Glass>rubylith mask>negative>coated paper.

    hope that helps.
     
  3. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

    Messages:
    232
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Location:
    Italy
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    thanks!!! Never heard of rubylith before... I just hope I will find some...

    bye

    ps - does fingerprints damage or reduce the efficiency of the rubylith sheet? does it require the same care as for negatives?
     
  4. photomc

    photomc Member

    Messages:
    3,575
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Location:
    Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Matt is correct, but you can also use the blue painters tape (or any other tape that will not stick to the paper) just make sure it is wide enough. Also any opaque material that can be cut to mask the coated paper. Like Matt indicated, the sequence is glass>then mask>then negative>then coated paper in the contact print frame.
     
  5. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,494
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Location:
    Bath, OH 442
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    You can buy rubylith in sheets at some graphics art supply houses.

    John Powers
     
  6. psvensson

    psvensson Member

    Messages:
    625
    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2004
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I cut up a black plastic photo-paper bag. It works fine for masking. There's no fogging from light coming through the plastic, but of course, the cyanotype may or may not clear fully.
     
  7. Keith Taylor

    Keith Taylor Member

    Messages:
    54
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2005
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I use Goldenrod paper which is used in the printing industry for masking out areas. It's also available as a vinyl sheet, although the paper is cheaper and comes ruled or unruled.
    I buy mine through Photo Warehouse. http://www.ultrafineonline.com/ulmash.html
    Keith.
     
  8. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,865
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format

    thanks for the link keith. I might try some of that out.
     
  9. Kerik

    Kerik Member

    Messages:
    1,467
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I found that Goldenrod was not completely opaque to UV for pt/pd printing. During very long exposures (don't remember exactly, but ~20 minutes in a 40 watt BL box) I would get slight density appearing in the masked borders. Using a double thickness of Goldenrod eliminated it. Most of my negs print much shorter (3 to 8 minutes), so it was rarely an issue. These days I mask the area to be coated using either brown painter's tape for smooth, hard papers or Scotch® Safe-Release Masking Tape 2070 for softer papers or papers with some texture. This is the white tape, not the blue stuff. It's pricey, but will not pull up fibers on the paper surface.
     
  10. photomc

    photomc Member

    Messages:
    3,575
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Location:
    Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks Kerik, could not remember the Scotch 2070 tape remember either it was mentioned before. Have had the same problem you mentioned with slight density appearing in the masked border after long exposures with rubylith tape.
     
  11. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,865
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    kerik... youve got me interested. this may seem obvious but I'll ask anyways.
    So you coat normally.... then do you lay the neg on the paper and then laydown the tape? with slight overlap onto the negative to block off the film holder edges? this seems like a great and easy way to mask rather than having to cut up a sheet of rubylith (although I guess the advantage for the mask cutout would be reuseable etc)
    so its basically tantamount to creating a mask each time you make a print using the tape?

    thanks.
     
  12. Keith Taylor

    Keith Taylor Member

    Messages:
    54
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2005
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Kerik,
    Yes, I've had that in the past too, and doubling the Goldenrod worked. Now, most of my exposures are in the 2-3 minute range and that's rarely ever a problem. I'm not sure if the vinyl alternative is denser or more opaque, but the paper is just so quick and easy to work with.
     
  13. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,066
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2004
    Location:
    fairfield co
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Masks

    I did a workshop with Tillman Crane this summer and he had masks made up to
    size on plastic sheets with a black border. You could try and have a sign place make them for you. He did a run for 20 or more at a time. Maybe a little more expensive but time saving in the end.....
    Peter
     
  14. Kerik

    Kerik Member

    Messages:
    1,467
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Matt,

    No, I tape off the area before I coat, then remove the tape before I print. This is how I get clean black borders around my images. I tape off an area slightly larger than my negative. The blue masking tape will pull up fibers on softer/textured papers.