Pigments for carbon printing

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by mark, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. mark

    mark Member

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    I have read a lot of stuff and there is not a lot about pigment differences or amounts.

    I will stay away from dry pigments but was wondering what alternatives are out there.

    Here is what I have found so far

    India ink
    Sumi Ink
    Black cat
    Carbon black water color paint.

    all seem to work well but some people like one over the other for what seem like personal reasons.

    What do you folks use and what amounts?
     
  2. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I like the watercolors in tubes. I like the gloss I get (not very glossy, but not matte). The carbon seems to be very finely ground and disperses in the gelatin nicely with no oily residue.

    I use to use Sumi ink until I finally finished the bottle -- then I could not get the same results with the next bottle (grainy images).

    I found that different brands definitely had different pigment loads in them, so I found it best to stick to one brand. I am using 4 to 5 grams for a 750ml batch of glop when using Grahams lampblack watercolor...which is a fairly light load (0.5 to 0.7%). I sometimes add a little Burnt Sienna to it also, but I have backed off of the amount as the prints were getting to warm.
     
  3. ccross

    ccross Member

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    Hi Mark,

    I'm still fairly new to Carbon printing, so can't offer a lot of experience, but I've been using watercolours for my glop recipe. I've tried four different brands of watercoours at 6g - 10g per litre of glop. I haven't done extensive testing, but so far I like the look of the Graham Lamp Black and the Windsor & Newton Lamp Black.

    Hope that helps.

    Craig
     
  4. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    "Royal India Ink" is my go-to pigment. It has a warm black tone, medium gloss and is $ cheap.
    With wc paints, I always disperse in water, mixing very thoroughly, sometimes with the addition of a drop of detergent or photo-flo. This procedure seems to lessen, if not eliminate grain/clumps.
     
  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    With the disclaimer that I haven't done carbon myself yet, let me offer a little free advert for a company that I adore: Kremer Pigments. They seem to have every conceivable pigment, including some rare 'historical' ones, and they also make very handy sample books. I have quite a lot of stuff from them and recommend them very highly.
     
  6. mark

    mark Member

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    Nice supply there kieth. The problem is they are dry pigments. I will keep them in mind but I don't want to start with dry. From what I have gathered the dry pigments can be pretty touchy, and it is much better to start with pigment that is in a liquid state.

    I hope to get to the point where I can use dry pigments as well as paper that I have sized myself, maybe even made myself.
     
  7. gmikol

    gmikol Member

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    Not all of them are dry. They have a line of pigment concentrate dispersions. They call them "color paste". They're either aqueous or glycol dispersions, depending on the pigment.

    Synthetic Organic Pigments:
    http://kremerpigments.com/shopus/index.php?lang=ENG&list=01030103

    Mineral Pigments:
    http://kremerpigments.com/shopus/index.php?lang=ENG&list=010105

    Thinking about trying at least the lamp black once I run out of watercolor. $9 for 75 grams ($25 for 250g / $60 for 1kg and you're set for life!)

    --Greg
     
  8. mark

    mark Member

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    Thanks I did not see those.
     
  9. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    They have everything. I mean it, lapis lazuli in whale snot is probably there... if you don't see it call and they will help you.
     
  10. banana_legs

    banana_legs Member

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    Hi Mark,

    I grind my own pigments (from raw soot in general). With the grief it gives me, I can highly recommend using pigments from a tube! I also size and sometimes make my own paper. Time spent using good quality pigment from a tube and transferring to a well behaved substrate (such as fixed out photo paper) will allow you to perfect your technique; if your technique is not good then using difficult pigments or sizing/making your own paper will cause no-end of failures. As there are so many ways to mess up, gaining a good understanding of how all the variables interact is really important. I find one of the greatest helps to getting consistent results is to keep really detailed notes on my experiments (i.e. quantities, times, temperatures, humidities etc.)

    If you do decide to use dry pigments, take time to disperse them well into a liquid before adding the gelatine glop. I ball-mill my soot to get it really fine first, then grind it in a pestle and mortar with a few drops of warm gelatine glop until I get a thick goo. I then add more glop a few drops at a time and keep grinding etc until the soot is all dispersed well. I then pass it through a fine filter to remove any lumps that may remain. Be aware that some pigments do not work well with 'modern' glop recipes (soot is a good example of a difficult pigment); I am using an old soap-based glop formula (real soap, not detergent) that works really well with soot as without the soap it misbehaves. Interestingly many of the tube-based pigments do not work well in the soap-based glop.

    The quantities of dry pigment vary depending on what the pigment is and how finely it is ground. My grinding can be considered very coarse compared to tube paint so my pigment load varies from 20g/litre to 100g of dry soot per litre of glop (no, I have not added a zero by mistake!). With the really coarse grinds and at 100g/litre, the tissue is high contrast and has little relief, but feels a bit like sandpaper.

    There are no rules really, do not be afraid to experiment (but of course let us know what you find out!).

    Best regards,

    Evan
     
  11. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    Evan,

    I am curious as to what kind of soap you are using.

    When I first started carbon-transfer, I did try some of the older glop formulae with "Castille soap". I went so far as to start making my own with olive oil and lye... and soon realized that I was making things difficult for myself. I am not about to start grinding coal to make pigment, but have been tinkering with some unusual items.. soya sauce being one :smile:
     
  12. banana_legs

    banana_legs Member

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    Hi Ian,

    I generally use soap flakes that are intended for washing clothes; the ones I get seem to be pretty much pure soap. I do make my own soap too; for printing the best results were from soap made with very little (if any) excess fats, which is not ideal for washing hands with! Castille soap should work well though if the pigments are 'soap friendly'. I am not sure exactly what chemical processes are important in the glop making, but I suspect it could be the shapes of the particles or more likely that it is the oils or tars in the soot that react with the soap to create some rather nice properties. A soap based formula with ground charcoal is hideous and foams like crazy with endless bubbles (which is what also happens with watercolour paint and soap glop); the shapes of the ground particles are very different, but also there is no oil as there is with soot.

    With the soot and soap recipe, I am pouring bubble free 'liquid silk' to make tissues within 1/2 hour of starting to soak my gelatine (20min soak, 10min to add pigment and filter). Without the soap, I use isoprop. alcohol to aid bubble dispersal and let it sit for some time (usually and hour or two) to de-gas. With the soap free glop I tend to get oily streaks on the surface and the soot particles tend to clump more and I get rougher and more uneven tissue. I have made tissues using ground coffee and the behaviour was very similar to the soap/non-soap recipes as I see with soot, again leading me to suspect it is an interaction of the soap and the oils. I think that if you have a risk of oil contamination of the pigment, a soap glop is worth a try; if it works, it is great, but if it does not, it is a disaster, so try a small 100ml batch test. I also found that using detergents rather than soap caused foaming and bubble issues that I do not see with real soap, however the pigment dispersion was much improved over the isoprop. glop.

    My typical recipe is: 750ml water, 100g food-grade gelatine, 80g sugar, 10g soap, 30g soot. I pour 50ml of glop for an 8"x10" area. I tend to go for higher contrast tissues (low relief) as I print onto sized watercolour paper and struggle to get relief even with thick tissues. The higher-contrast thinner tissues also mean my negatives do not have to be so dense (I still end up with a 1% dichromate solution often though). If I am not using soap, I replace the soap with about the same weight of isoprop. alcohol.

    Best regards,

    Evan
     
  13. Jim Graves

    Jim Graves Member

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    Starting out I would use one of the already proven inks or watercolor in tubes.

    With carbon printing it is extremely important to limit your variables to ensure some kind of repeatable results.

    If you have any interest in varying your picture "temperature" (i.e. cold, medium, warm depending on the content of the image), I would definitely start (and stick with) watercolors. The pigments have been specifically developed and processed to dissolve consistently in water ... and, you have a product-wide line of different colors that have been developed by the same company for mixing. Unlike inks, the compatible choices are myriad and they are readily available at art stores everywhere.
     
  14. mark

    mark Member

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    Thanks Jim, that is what I figured. What percentage of pigment do you use?
     
  15. CMB

    CMB Member

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    In his recent (beautiful) book of monochrome carbon prints made of mountains in Belgium, Germany, France and Wales, Dutch photographer Witho Worms writes:

    "Took a bit of coal from every mountain I photographed…ground this coal into a pigment …to make a (carbon) print of a mountain with the coal originating from that mountain. In other words, the object of the photo, the mountain, has become one with the subject of the photo, the print itself."

    Very cool stuff.

    Cette Montagne C'est Moi
    FW: Books (2012)
    ISBN 978-94-90119-14-0
     
  16. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Love it. Reminds me of the old practice of making portraits of the deceased from their ashes in the form of a carbon print. Slightly macabre, but actually a beautiful idea in my opinion.
     
  17. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    In the same theme as using coal from the mountains.. I added soya-sauce to my carbon 'glop' for this print of "Mr. Tse" (owner of a favourite take-out establishment)

    mrtsekitchen.jpg
     
  18. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Of course a bit of Uncle Earl will go down the drain during the development of the carbon print (the unexposed portion of the carbon tissue)...:blink:
     
  19. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Photographers' Formulary supplies (or supplied) carbon black that was suitable for tissue making. Most pigments do not come ground fine enough for carbon tissue. Has any one tried an surfactants other than soap to aid dispersion?
     
  20. CMB

    CMB Member

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    An anionic surfactant, such as Kodak's Photo-Flo, is probably your best bet.
     
  21. mark

    mark Member

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    I assumed this was why there was a pretty big emphasis on filtering the glop. Is there another reason?