Photographic images on a textured acrylic base?

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Joost, May 21, 2006.

  1. Joost

    Joost Member

    Messages:
    21
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Location:
    Eindhoven, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi all,

    I'm fairly new to APUG. After done photography in a distant past and painting and printmaking in a more recent one, I'm trying now to find an artistic direction in which I can combine all my "loves". Presently I'm doing research to find out what is possible.

    I want to create photographic images on a textured acrylic base. The base is created with acrylic gels, modelling past and paint on a carrier. I'm happy to adapt the material of the carrier if needed, but by default it will be some polymer plate. I do not want to be limited too much in the texture, think about a texture depth of 5-10 mm.

    I do not need full color images, monochrome is fine. But just black & white is not sufficient, I need to be able to pick/control the color of the image. It would be nice (but is not absolutely necessary) if the colors could be both transparent and opaque (printing white would be a nice feature). Ideally (but again not necessary) I could choose my own pigments. Multiple layers on top of one another should be possibile. I have (strong) preference for continuous tone processes, but if needed I could apply halftoon screens.

    Finally, I have the ambitions to go to fairly large prints (think 100 x 80 cm).

    I can start from analogue negatives (4"x5"), inkjet prints or laser prints. In terms of equipment, I do have a large intaglio press and a (unused) 6x6 enlarger. Actually I don't think they are of too much use here. So, I am willing to make some (modest) investments.

    From my research so far I found the following.

    Gum prints are very appealing but I foresee major issues on making contact prints on the textured base. This would hold for any technique that uses contact prints. And, by that, I'm afraid that all UV-based techniques are not suitable (a UV-enlarger does not seem to be a realistic route, I expect all UV to be absorped in the optics of the enlarger)

    Photogravure, photolithography, polymer lithography, foto screen printing All very nice techniques (some experience with polymer lithographyand screen printing myself) some with very good photographic potential, put printing requires close mechnical contact between plate and final image. Unfortunately the is prohibited by rhe texture of the acrylics.

    inkjet printingOut of the scope of this forum of course, but apart from that texture and size requirements are challenging.

    Based on the considerations above, I expect that the best route is to go for an enlarger based approach. As said before, I have only a 6x6 enlarger, but if necessary I could consider buying a second-hand 4x5. 8x10 would be even nicer, would allow also A4 prints to be enlarged, but in terms of investment and, especially, space that could be out of my reach (would the overhead projector I have be of any use in this?)

    Liquid light seems good candidate, but apparently there are issues with using it on an acrylic base (not resistant against developer). Perhaps solved by a protective coating. Not sure what the freedom/quality of the colors is. I found several post on this forums, but not on Rockland Colloid's PolyToner or Selectatoner, that should allow for coloring the print. Any experience? Is it any good? Any data on archival quality?

    bromoil printingIn its base form not feasible on acrylics which is hydrofobic. I'm phantasizing about first applying a hydrophilic coating (gelatin?, gum arabic?), then applying liquid light and finally following the bromoil process. Quite complicated. Any change for success?

    transfer techniquesThere are techniques to transer emulsion with inkjet prints to other surfaces. Is that also possible for photgraphic techniques? Of course it will be challenging in combination with textured surfaces.

    So far my thoughts for now. Sorry about the long post. Any comments or other suggestions are appreciated!

    Joost
     
  2. sunnyroller

    sunnyroller Member

    Messages:
    170
    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    Location:
    Little Rock
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You could always do polaroid imulsion lifts or polaroid transfers. I don't know how well they would stick to the acrylic, but if it has texture it might grab. This would give you the option of doing color or black and white. I just went to a show at a gallery of polaroid transfers last night--it isn't a process I have tried to do myself yet.

    Sunny
     
  3. Joost

    Joost Member

    Messages:
    21
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Location:
    Eindhoven, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sunny, thanks for the suggestion. A question though: I'm not familiar with the process (do you have a good pointer?) but I assume there are size constraints, right? I would expect the max size one could go is the largest polaroid film available, which I think is 8"x10", which would need an 8x10 camera. It's not a fundamental problem for me to build up an image from multiple transfers, but if I have the option to avoid it, that would be very welcome. Or I do miss something here?

    Joost
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,898
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Coating an emulsion on any material requires that the material be free of substances that affect the emulsion. For example, some acrylics contain amines which are silver halide solvents and can fog the emusion. Other base materials contain reducing agents which can also fog the emulsion.

    Aside from that, liquid light is a good option. It is expensive and sometimes you do not get fresh material from a store. Ideally, it should be refrigerated until use. And, like film, it has an expiration date beyond which it can become unusable.

    PE
     
  5. Joost

    Joost Member

    Messages:
    21
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Location:
    Eindhoven, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks for the info. I was not aware of this effect. That would then be another reason to apply a protective coating on top of the acrylics.

    I read another thread, with yourself as main contributor, on making ones own liquid emulsion to cirmcumvent this problem. I can consider that, but of course, the process becomes more and more complicated .... Any experience with coloring/toning?
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,898
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Joost;

    I color and tone both commercial papers and my own papers and it works just fine. I have also hand tinted prints. There is nothing magic or special about either of these.

    PE
     
  7. kathleencarr

    kathleencarr Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The largest Polaroid film size you could do at home is 8x10, which would require either shooting live with an 8x10 camera, or using a Daylab II Pro slide printer with an 8x10 base, Polaroid 8x10 film holder, and Polaroid 8x10 processor. All can be found used at reasonable to cheap prices. The Polaroid 809 8x10 film is about $130/box for 15 sheets, depending on where you buy it. I'm not sure how much longer Polaroid will make the 8x10 size film - it depends on sales. Polaroid emulsion transfers would do everything you want to do, and the process is fun and easy. Refer to my two books Polaroid Transfers, and Polaroid Manipulations for step-by-step illustrated instructions. I also teach workshops and private sessions.

    Another possible solution involves using either laser or inkjet prints on a media called Lazertran, info at www.lazertran.com.

    Hope that helps.

    Kathleen
     
  8. Joost

    Joost Member

    Messages:
    21
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Location:
    Eindhoven, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks. So I understand that all normal tinting process work equally well with liquid emulsion. In hindsight logical... I keep liquid emulsions on the option list.
     
  9. Joost

    Joost Member

    Messages:
    21
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Location:
    Eindhoven, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi Kathleen,

    Thanks for the info. Nevertheless it seems to me that polaroid transfer don't too much closer to what I need: limited size (compared to what I need), no/limited coloring options, probably difficult to transfer to (highly) textured surfaces.

    This is indeed similar to an option that I'm exploring as well but that I kept out of the discussion, feeling it did not fit on this forum. What I'm experimenting with is using Inkaid (www.inkaid.com) to prepare sheets of thin fabric (e.g rice paper) to print on and glue to the acrylic painting. Another alternative is to prepare the painting itself with a clear inkaid coating and print on it directly. In both cases again the texture of the acrylic is a challenge.