Linen Paper for Iron-based Processes

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Mike Ware, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. Mike Ware

    Mike Ware Member

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    A New Linen Paper for Siderotype (Iron-based) Processes

    As fellow-practitioners of the "ferric processes" will know only too well, the last technical difficulty confronting us is the uncertain quality and composition of the paper stock that we coat.
    Everything else lies within our control.
    In recent times, I've heard that the commercial supplies of cotton furnishings for high quality papermaking have become increasingly unreliable, sometimes causing problems in the changing characteristics and supply of some of our most popular papers for hand-coating, such as Arches Platine and Bergger COT 320.

    For nearly 20 years I've successfully used a 100% cotton handmade paper called 'Buxton' paper, from Ruscombe Mill at Margaux, the background is here:

    http://www.mikeware.co.uk/mikeware/Alternative_Printing.html

    Recently I've been testing a new paper from Ruscombe Mill, which will become fully available by the end of April, this year. The launch of this product has been announced on the Mill's website:

    http://www.ruscombepaper.com/

    It will differ from all other alternative process papers in being handmade from 100% linen cellulose fibre (i.e. made entirely from the best quality flax, not cotton).
    Chris Bingham, the master papermaker at Ruscombe Mill, is making this product for the alternative process community, and has named it 'Herschel' paper, remembering that great man's innovation of the siderotype processes. He sees it as the future replacement for Buxton and Talbot papers.

    I've tested Herschel paper with argyrotype, new cyanotype, palladiotype, platinotype, platino-palladiotype, and new chrysotype. It performs superbly with all these processes as I practice them.

    I guess that the different performance of flax versus cotton cellulose lies in the fibre morphology constraining the image substance. The structure of the flax fibre may enhance its ability to retain nanoparticles of image pigment, which is essential to the success of all siderotype processes. During the wet processing, I don't see any "bleeding" of image substance - even Prussian blue, which is notorious. I've been particularly delighted with the colour of the silver images it yields with my argyrotype process, and the range of colours obtainable with new chrysotype, which are also highly dependent on particle size.

    Herschel paper, like Buxton, is 'engine-sized' with neutral alkylketene dimer, AKD. It can be rod-coated with sensitizer solution similarly to Buxton, with the addition of Tween 20 surfactant to the sensitizer, to ca. 0.1-0.2%. There is, of course, absolutely no added chalk or other alkaline buffer in this paper, which seriously inhibit siderotype, no surface sizing such as gelatin, which 'kills' platinum, nor clay or gypsum fillers, OBAs, etc., etc. With all processes, the Dmax is high, the cold-pressed surface is perfectly matte with a 'fine tooth' texture, the clearing of whites in the wet processing is rapid and complete, and the gradation and smoothness of the image tones are excellent. This linen paper sheet has much greater resilience and wet strength than cotton papers, notwithstanding its moderate weight of 200 gsm. Dimensional stability is good, with about ±1% hydroexpansivity; but to obtain a perfectly flat sheet after processing, it does need to be dried slowly under pressure.

    'Herschel' paper will prove an excellent replacement for Buxton, with the advantage that the Mill's supply of linen cellulose fibre (from flax grown in Northern France or Belgium) is more reliable and consistent than present supplies of cotton. In high quality papermaking, confidence in the raw materials is paramount. One need have little worry about archivality, because linen was the first plant fibre historically available to Europeans for making fabrics. Long before the growth of the cotton textile industry towards the end of the 18th Century, linen rags were being processed in the 15th Century for European papermaking, and such papers have endured well to this day. I believe that linen has also been used for banknotes, bonds, and other security papers.

    I apologise if you encounter multiple postings of this information, (and I beg the usual critics kindly to note that I have no commercial or pecuniary interest in this product.)

    With good wishes to all,

    Mike

    Dr Mike Ware
    mike@mikeware.co.uk
    http://www.mikeware.co.uk
     
  2. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    This is great news, I will try it as soon as it is available. I did have trouble with a few sheets of Buxton that I bought here in NY a while ago (spotty blacks, with tiny white speckles). I've used it many times, before and since it has been fine.
     
  3. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    who is going to carry this in the states?? I have used linen paper in the past and was extremely pleased with the results...hats off to Ruscombe!!
    Best, Peter
     
  4. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    Here in NY we have New York Central Art Supplies. They have a world class paper department. They carry all the usual Pt/Pd papers, except COT 320, when they're available, including papers from Ruscombe Mills. BTW, I paid through the nose, but I just ordered the linen paper form Ruscombe on line, via Pay Pal. I've ordered from them before. The new paper is called "Herschel". Here's a link to NY Central's paper products.
    http://www.nycentralartsupply.com/
     
  5. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    central is awesome but there are no real papers around except the ones you acidify yourself...a lot easier to just get to work with the right tools. should email mike ware to find out who might carry it here
    Best, Peter
     
  6. Mike Ware

    Mike Ware Member

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    I understand that Ruscombe Mill has been in contact with some well-known distributors of art papers in the USA. Unfortunately they are all asking for such large discounts that it is uneconomic for the Mill to supply them; of course, the high shipping costs don't help. Handmade paper is inevitably more expensive than machine-made paper. I think one should be prepared to pay up to 10% of the 'value' of one's handmade print for the sheet of handmade paper it's printed on.

    While the pigmented colloid-hardening processes can still be practised quite successfully with cheap machine-made papers, it now seems that there is now no machine-made paper that performs really well for the iron-based processes - and some of the previous favorites are now disappointing - it's thought due to deterioration in the quality of raw cotton fibre supplies for papermaking.

    It remains to be seen if the large-volume papermills are prepared to machine-make an adequate paper for our purposes.
    It's possible that there may be aspects to forming a suitable sheet which can only be achieved by hand-making.

    Mike
     
  7. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    ordered the paper direct from Ruscombe mills....can't wait I love linen and plat!
    Best, Peter
     
  8. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Great, I just bought some..EC
     
  9. samuelingram

    samuelingram Member

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    I'm tempted to buy some of this and/or some Buxton. I hear regularly that Buxton paper is unrivalled when it comes to the alternative processes so how does this new paper compare? What advantages does it have over Buxton in terms of image clarity, (In the case of cyanotype) the types of blues we can expect from it as well as detail and contrast? Do you have any example images to show, or perhaps some side by side comparisons?
     
  10. Mike Ware

    Mike Ware Member

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    The reason for launching this paper and its "advantages" over Buxton are explained in my first posting, above, and on the Ruscombe Mill website. In the case of cyanotype, the type of blue you can expect will depend on your sensitizer chemistry and processing, rather than the paper. I did post some steptablet tests elsewhere, on DPUG, with the proviso that the scanning optics had overemphasised the surface texture but, despite my saying that, the images were disparagingly interpreted as "grainy", so I am reluctant to post them again. Grainy they are not.
     
  11. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Mike, it's great to have you posting here and thanks for the Herschel info..Evan Clarke
     
  12. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Peter

    I would really like to hear how you feel about this paper, I am now delving into various alt processes and I am looking for a high quality paper to set as a standard.
    There seems to be so much talk here and on other forums about the poor performance of papers in general and its daunting to not only be starting with a bunch of new methods, but as well papers that are good or bad depending upon who you listen to.
    I have contacted the mill as well , I will place a order to test, if its good maybe a few of us NA printers should gang up on a bulk order to bring down the costs.

    Bob
     
  13. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Bob- it was a number of years ago that I wondered into the Dieu Donne factory in NYC to have a look around. they make custom made papers for artists. I took some nice looking linen paper and made some lovely prints on it. of I was never able to get it again....mine is on order to from the mill in France. would be more than interested in joining a group buy to secure a good stash of quality paper.
     
  14. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Ok- give me an update and I will also order some and test, if it is good then we can put together a group purchase.

     
  15. Davec101

    Davec101 Member

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    Hi Bob

    I have been testing Herschel recently and really like the paper, it has a real handmade feel to it. I prefer the texture of it when compared to Buxton. With Platinum/Palldium it gives a nice charcoal black. It coats well and does not require pre-treatment. i am going to try it with some tri-gum later to see how it responds.

    Will post some examples when i get a chance.
     
  16. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    I got a notice from the Postal service that my Herschel paper has arrived. With luck, I'll print this weekend!...Evan Clarke
     
  17. samuelingram

    samuelingram Member

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    I ordered some, but despite Ruscombe quoting me a reasonable delivery time around two weeks ago, it has yet to arrive. Bit of a disappointment, but probably out of their control.
     
  18. alexhill

    alexhill Member

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    how smooth is the surface pre and post soak? It's expensive, but I would love to test a few sheets and see what they offer
     
  19. Mike Ware

    Mike Ware Member

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    Many hot-pressed papers, like Arches Platine, lose some of their calender in the wet processing, especially on the felt side, and yield distinctly textured prints.
    Wet-processed Herschel paper does not look much different, in a side-by-side comparison with wet-processed Arches Platine - just a hint warmer white, perhaps, and a little more 'tooth'. Despite the texture it holds and resolves even the finest details from an original 8"x10" camera negative. If the Herschel sheet is dried under some pressure against a smooth surface, it can even end up smoother than it started.
     
  20. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Mike,
    Are you rod coating this paper?
     
  21. Mike Ware

    Mike Ware Member

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    Apologies for delayed reply, Evan - I've been holidaying on a remote Aegean island.
    Yes, I always rod coat. An area 210 x 260 mm requires ca. 1.7 cc of sensitizer (0.1 more than for Buxton), giving a specific coating volume of 31 cc/sq. meter.
    Tween is usually 0.2 to 0.4% final. I usually take 5 "passes" to absorb nearly all the sensitizer.

    Mike
     
  22. jorj

    jorj Member

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    My order arrived late last week - this is quite a fine paper. The lighter weight will take a bit of getting used to. I typically double-coat my kallitypes but find that one tween'd coat is quite sufficient on this delightful paper. It takes Pd/Pt toning quite well, and 48-hour-old sensitized paper (not discernibly discolored) still comes out looking better than most other papers (but is clearly altered, as it no longer accepts Pd toning well).

    Word of warning, though: the large sheets I ordered were randomly creased ~2" in from the edges due to poor packaging. Probably salvageable but disappointing.
     
  23. jorj

    jorj Member

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    A reply from Chris Bingham at Ruscombe Mill, who contacted me proactively after seeing my last post:
    I'm looking forward to my next order to see how well that works. I continue to be impressed with Herschel.

    [​IMG]
     
  24. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I purchased a package of Herschel a few weeks back. I was surprised at how quickly it arrived (France to NYC). I like this paper. The surface is toothy, but the image was smooth and rich. You can see my first print on it in my gallery, titled, Corinthian Eva. I have to break down my printing set up to move, but I hope to continue printing on this paper in the fall.