Intriguing proposition for "electroplated photograph" - What do you guys think?

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by holmburgers, Jul 22, 2010.

  1. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    http://www.finishing.com/265/85.shtml

    I came across this question after spelunking the interwebs, and indeed this sounds like a fascinating proposition.

    Basically, print a gum negative on a sheet of metal and then electroplate it. The electroplated portions will then constitute the positive image. The result is a seriously stable photograph.

    Is this possible, plausible? I'm just thinking about the possibilities.... electroplating various metals in layers. Selective tarnshing, polishing, petina, etc.; could result in very beautiful and unique colors/tones.

    Please, I'd love to hear your opinions. Heck, it sounds fairly easy to do.
     
  2. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Offhand the only thing wrong I noticed was he mentioned electroplating with zinc, platinum or silver. The silver would quickly tarnish, turning black instead of remaining light colored like the others. It is interesting.
     
  3. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Well, knowing that, you could use silver for your blacks.

    Would gum be the only option for the resist?
     
  4. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    You may be surprised to hear that electroplating has been used for reproducing photographs and line drawings since the dawn of the "electric age" in the 19th century and the invention of the battery by Volta. I recently bought a book about old (offset) printing techniques, and it details many processes, including ones using electroplating, to create "matrices" that could be used in reproducing photos or drawings on paper.
     
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  5. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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  6. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    By the way, one technique described in the book I have, details some aspects I don't see in the other articles. It could possibly be used in conjunction with dichromate hardened matrices, as the book described that they pressed wooden line engravings into bee wax (that you could probably do with the dichromate matrix). The wax had been made conductive by using graphite, and was subsequently electroplated with copper from a coppersulphate solution, giving a durable negative image that could be used as a normal printing plate in book printing, using any of your preferred "durable" inks and a simple hand cranked printing press, as used in etching.

    OK, I know see that the use of graphite is mentioned here:

    http://www.greenart.info/history/History1.htm

    "If the cathode was a three-dimensional object or mould in wax, plaster of paris, or metal, coated with ‘plumbago’ (black lead) or graphite to conduct electricity, then the copper formed a solid negative mould over the object."

    I guess from reading this, is what they did was dust the wax mould with a very thin layer of finely ground graphite to make it conductive for the electroplating, and when the electroplating was finished, remove the wax by melting it and wash away any graphite and wax remains in warm water or so to expose the plate and have it ready for printing...
     
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  7. phritz phantom

    phritz phantom Member

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    unfortunately the guy doesn't know much about gum printing. first thing that came to my mind was that the gum layer won't stick to the metal (or swim off in development). gum is infamous for being picky about surfaces.
    gelatin (aka carbon printing) would probably be a better option (it is used on metal surfaces in copper photogravure).

    and about the plating: can one achieve greys (not-white, not-black) with this? except when using a printing screen (or is it grid?? sorry don't know the english word for the little dots).
     
  8. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    It's called a half-tone screen.
     
  9. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    A line screen to produce the half-tone screen might be necessary. I don't know the first thing about gum printing, so the word of caution about materials it can stick to is welcome. But does gelatin harden in the same manner, allowing for a resist?

    Marco B, thanks for the link!

    This is very interesting... I need to learn more though.
     
  10. phritz phantom

    phritz phantom Member

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    ah, so it's screen! i can never remember whether the german "raster" translates to "grid" or "screen".

    you might get the gum layer to stick to the metal in one way or another, but in no way without serious sizing/ undercoats. and you need bare metal for the plating. so i assume this technique is doomed to fail.
    but, carbon printing is used in copper photogravure. an image made from gelatin and pigment is transferred onto a sheet of copper and the put into an etching bath (areas with gelatin won't etch or etch less proportionally).
    i think this is very similar to what you have in mind.
     
  11. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Yes, this sounds promising. Perhaps instead of etching w/ acid, this step could be replaced by electroplating.

    Would this theoretically work?
     
  12. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Mr. PP,

    Don't be so quick to jump. Gum can be printed on glass and metal!
     
  13. phritz phantom

    phritz phantom Member

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    see my next post. it probably can, but without sizing/ subcoats? i doubt that.
     
  14. donbga

    donbga Member

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    But you didn't say that to begin with did you?

    Anyway with the proper substrate applied to glass, metal or wood gum layers can be printed.
     
  15. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    OK, so I've had some recent thoughts on this.

    Another alternative method for "metal prints" would be to use steel bluing, like in guns. I think the best way to do this would be too make a pigmentless carbon transfer to a polished piece of metal (just like a Woodburytype) and then apply whatever method to tint the uncovered areas, whether it be electro-plating, patina, bluing, rust, and so on.

    Different metals and different treatments could produce a wide range of looks.
     
  16. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    From 1899, British Journal of Photography, Vol. 46, pg. 411:

    METALLIC PHOTOGRAPHS:

    It is about two years since we referred to the charming method of photographic printing which the Metallic Photo Printing Syndicate, of New Southgate, was formed to work and exploit. The results could not fail to excite admiration. The image, in brilliant pulverulent silver or gold, is transfered to a surface of polished mahogany, previously made black, and is subsequently treated and varnished in such a manner that the destructive agency of the most powerful acids has no effect on the picture, which may therefore be looked upon as possessing the elements of permanency in the highest degree.

    The process since its first introduction has been considerably improved in its working details by Mr. F. Ahrle, the managing director of the Company, and the latest specimens shown us possess a depth and richness of image which could scarcely be improved upon. Besides portraits, the process is well adapted for the reproduction of pictures, advertising plaques (sheets of ferrotype here constituting the support), and other purposes. Mr. Ahrle tells us that, given suitable negatives, the best possible results are easily and inexpensively produced at his works.

    Nothing could have a richer decorative effect in the house than a large portrait or reproduction of a picture with the image in bright silver or gold on a massive, highly polished ebony black support. Besides the element of permanence, these pictures have every good photographic quality, detail and gradation, light and shadow being perfectly rendered. We urderatand that these metallic photographs (in which the only fault we can find is their awkward name) are shortly to be brought very prominently to the notice of the public.


    I'm not sure if that last line ever came true... but I'd love to see one.
     
  17. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    Chris ,

    I had been posted a thread about electroplating silver print with platin or titanium 1 or 2 years ago.

    Umut