Matte surface of gum prints

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by sdivot, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. sdivot

    sdivot Subscriber

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    I'm curious how people feel about the matte look of gum prints, whether gumover Pt/Pd or multi-colored gum prints. Any alt process, for that matter.

    Anyone who has seen my work will know that I do this type of printing almost exclusively. I love it, but sometimes I find myself missing that gloss or semi-gloss surface of gelatin silver papers and c-prints or even (please forgive me) some digital papers. These gloss prints often seem more palatable to people.
    I sometimes can tell by the look on my wife's face that she wishes my prints had a "shine" to them. This is especially true of prints that are not monochrome. A matte surfaced tri-color gum print sometimes looks a bit dull to the eye. And frankly I think I like these alt. prints better when they're behind glass.

    I like my prints for their texture, depth, nostalgic, and sometimes impressionistic painterly look. Watercolor paintings don't "shine", do they? But sometimes.....
    How do you feel about this issue?

    Thanks,
    Steve
    www.scdowellphoto.com
     
  2. Davec101

    Davec101 Member

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    Interesting thread, as it happens I much prefer my cyanotype/platinum prints without glass in front of them. I really like the absolute matt appearance of such prints, however I can see what your getting at, when I pull my prints out of the washer they have a sort of glaze to them that is more pleasing than the dried down final print. I remember reading that Paul Strand used to wax his platinum prints to give it that wet glossy look, although I worry about how this would effect the archival qualities of the print!
     
  3. Stefan Findel

    Stefan Findel Member

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    Sometimes I look at one of my platinum prints and even like it - until I look at a silver gelatin from the same neg. Then the platinum looks pretty dull. I have waxed some of my platinum prints w/ microcrystalline wax, which is supposedly archival, but I don't know for sure. But the wax sits on top of the emulsion, and that's not the same as printing on a glossy silver gelatin emulsion. You still loose a lot of separation in the dark zones. I tried, but could not get the platinum emulsion to stick to a well seized paper, using gelatin for sizing. That might be very interesting, a glossy platinum paper!
     
  4. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Albumen prints are glossy, aren't they? I wonder what a platinum/palladium toned albumen print would look like.....hmmmmmmm......
     
  5. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I think both surfaces have their place. I love matte fiber B+W prints, and the matte surface has its own character to it. However, the real reason to do RA4 printing is that the gloss prints you get from that have a more natural gloss than inkjet papers. For that the gloss is very nice. It's like you're holding a slab of awesomeness in your hand.

    Have you tried some sort of laminate? That will give you a very nice gloss. I don't think it would alter any tones though.
     
  6. Katharine Thayer

    Katharine Thayer Member

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    Steve, you might consider sizing with Gamblin PVA (I think there's a thread here sometime in the recent couple of months on the subject). I tried it and I didn't care for the glossy surface it gave to the print, but it might be just what you're looking for.
    Katharine
     
  7. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    If I have a negative which I feel needs to be on glossy paper, I make a duplicate with the correct contrast for albumen and print the new negative on double coated albumen paper.
    A negative which has the correct contrast for Pt/Pd will be too contrasty for a good print on silver gelatin. Of course,the opposite is also true. That said, if certain staining developers are used in processing the negative, it is possible to get both a good silver gelatin and a respectable Pt/Pd print. Whether either is the best possible print is always debatable.

    A negative for gelatin silver will always look too flat on Pt/Pd even if the print is waxed with Dorland's Print Wax which burnishes to very nice gloss. I have never had this wax change color or cause damage to a print.
    I don't believe this wax has been available since the 50's or 60's.

    Back to the original message in the thread, I only make gum prints when I think the negative will benefit from the painterly quality of the color and the texture.
     
  8. sdivot

    sdivot Subscriber

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    Katherine,
    Actually I do use Gamblin PVA for sizing. I got this from Jim Larimer over at Hybridphoto. We had a discussion about it a few months ago. I use it diluted 1:2 with water. I have not noticed a difference between that and gelatin/formalin sizing in terms of gloss. The PVA soaks right in with no real noticeable effect on the sheen of the paper. Do you use it full strength?
    Steve
    www.scdowellphoto.com
     
  9. Katharine Thayer

    Katharine Thayer Member

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    Oops, I'd forgotten that you were one that was sizing that way, sorry. I tried it several different ways, but full strength was what gave it the shiny look I was talking about. Jim Larimer and I discussed this somewhere and decided that the paper makes a difference; I was using it on Arches bright white, which has a crisp (relatively nonabsorbent) surface, on which the size would probably sit up more on the surface than on a more absorbent paper.
    Katharine
     
  10. Aurum

    Aurum Member

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    Would a nice glossy Dig*tal paper optimised for inkjet used as a base for something like gum bicromate be a good combo for getting glossy with alt-process, or would it just fall apart with all that soaking in water?

    've not actually tried this, as I don't keep glossy inkjet paper in the house
     
  11. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

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    When I fix my paper for gum printing on a rigid substrate for re-registration, as I do for larger formats, I use a hot water bath to remove the print from the substrate, and this procedure necessitates varnishing it first, or otherwise part of the colour softens and dissolves in the hot water.
    I use glossy or semi-matte varnish, and both definitely and considerably improve shadow values in particular, and the richness of colours. Therefore I think varnishing a gum print with an archival varnish is quite recommendable, and the same goes for iron-salt processes. I don't do it always, not even often, for it is quite extra work, and the character of the print certainly changes, but tonal values improve, and the print does not lose its hand-made quality.
     
  12. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Lukas, exactly which varnish (type, composition, brand?) do you use for your gum prints? I was using Hydrocote Polyshield non-yellowing exterior polyurethane wood varnish for iron prints, I plan to try it for gum prints soon... Learning about other options would be nice.

    Thanks in advance,
    Loris.
     
  13. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

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    Loris,
    I would like to answer your question fully, but there is a problem: I recently shifted my residence from Germany to Lahore, Pakistan, and I have to admit that parts of my printing stuff is still wating t be taken out from the boxes and ordered. I hope, however, to resume gum printing pretty soon, by which time I will be forced to sort out my stuff, and accordingly be able to tell you the brand name. It is an acrylic varnish from a Dutch company, bought from a German art supplyer (Boesner). I cannot find it on their website, however.
    It is acidic, so I used it successfully to varnish cyanotype (gum over cyano, actually).

    But would you enlighten me about "iron prints"? Are you referring to cyanotypes or something else, not-blue?
     
  14. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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  15. q_x

    q_x Member

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    Shine or glossy

    Some things will look better with glaze finish, some like matte more? Is it not all this way?

    I always loved to print pigment rich thick 1-2 layer gums on non-seized paper (cheap acid-free Canson 120-200 g/m2). Later, after short exposition, I was developing prints with airbrush or "something stronger" (finger on the end of pipe is quite efficient water spray). This method destroyed all finest details and all tonal small things, but results was good enough (with subjects like ruined houses or some train landscapes), 100% matte prints.

    If you start printing from pigment-reach surfaces, ending with almost pure gum layers for lights you'll get more glaze, that is my experience. Why not use gum solution to make glossy finish? Also addition of starch or fine diatomaceous earth or lots of pigment in gum will produce matte surface.
     
  16. Katharine Thayer

    Katharine Thayer Member

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    That's an interesting idea, that I'm not sure I've heard before, to end with a pure gum solution to glaze the print with a glossy coat. The gum would need to be mixed with dichromate and exposed like any other gum layer, in order to harden the gum (unhardened gum remains highly water-soluble forever), and chances are you'd get a dichromate stain that would need to be cleared so as not to sully the appearance of the print. I'd think it would be a whole lot easier, if you want a gloss finish on a gum print, to follow some of the earlier suggestions in this thread for using varnish, or I would think an acrylic medium, or that Gamblin PVA, would also be options for this.
    Katharine
     
  17. sdivot

    sdivot Subscriber

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    Katharine is right. You do get a stain. A layer of plain gum on top of everything will give you a tan color on your print. If you want an aged look, I think it would work well. On my website I have two identical images from my Italy (Italy #31) portfolio. One has a top coat of plain gum. You can see it put a tan-ish tint on it.
    Steve
    www.scdowellphoto.com