Pt/Pd printing- mixing the solutions

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by GreyWolf, Nov 10, 2003.

  1. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Member

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    I apologize if this is a "simpleton question" in advance but I seem to be having a bit of difficulty of late getting my "light bulb" in my head to go on.

    I have been reading about the process and the chemicals required from Dick Arentz's book but I still do not understand the solutions. I am confused as to how much total liquid I need to make of each solution and how to mix the developers together to enable me to coat a piece of paper big enough for a 4x5 negative and also for a 8x10 negative.

    Do I make separate “A” (ferric oxalate), “B” (restrainer) and “C” (metal salts) and then blend them together? Do these solutions keep for months or do I need to make them fresh just before I begin to use the solution?

    The next question I would like advice on is should I buy a kit with all of the proper chemicals or by the chemicals separately. To help you answer that question I can tell you that I would rather invest a bit more at the beginning to get the economy further into my printing. I cannot see myself just printin 2 or 3 prints and giving up on Pt/Pd. If I begin this I am sure that I will spend at least a year dabbling. Learning and most importantly enjoying myself.

    So you help on a “Dummies guide to your first Pt/Pd print” would be so welcome and appreciated.

    Kind Regards,
     
  2. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Yeah, the chapter on solutions is not very clear. So here goes. You make a part "A" which is Ferric Oxalate and oxalic acid. Then you make a part "B" which is ferric oxalate, oxalic acid AND a restrainer, usually potassium chlorate. Finally you make your metal salt solutions. All of this of course according to the quantities Arentz has.

    Now then, once you have all 3 or 4 solutions (depending on whether you are making pt/pd or pd only) what you do to coat a piece of paper is you mix drop amounts of each solution.

    For example, if you want to coat a piece of 8x10 paper and are using the hake brushes, you want to put 24 drops of solution A or a combination of solution A and B to make a total of 24 drops.

    Then you add drops of pt and pd to make a total of 24 drops. So all together the drops of ferric oxalate + the drops of metal salts would total 48 drops.

    As you read further along, you will come across a recomendation Arentz makes about adding the restrainer to the DEVELOPER instead of the coating emulsion. This approach is much, much better.

    Adding the evil #2 solution (what you call part B) usually results in mottled and grainy prints.

    It is best to mix solutions yourself, for palladium if you buy 10 gr you can make 110 ml, this will last you for quite a while and is much cheaper than buying it mixed.

    The metal salts solutions will last indefinitly, the ferric oxalate solutions anywhere from 3 to 6 months, I have used farily old ferric oxalate with no significant changes, but of course, fresh is always best. I would recommend you only mix about 15 ml of Ferric oxalate at a time, this way you will always have a fresher solution.

    I urge you to get the Richeson 9010 brush. This brush will make a significant difference in your savings. If we take the example above, for an 8x10 I use a total of 16 drops! 8 ferri, 8 pd. This is more than half savings in solution than what you would get if you coat with hake brushes. Plus you only need one, not an army of hake brushes. The brush is expensive, but in the long road it will make a big difference.
     
  3. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    Whoa man. The ferric oxalate and the metal salt are mixed together just before you are ready to coat your paper. The drop counts that Dick has illustrated in his graphs and tables allow you to adjust the contrast of the resulting print to match the negative you are working with. The procedure is similar in spirit to split filter printing in silver. The #1 solution contains no restrainer - and is analogous to a low contrast "grade 1" filter. The #2 solution (the one with the restrainer) is analogous to the "grade 5" filter. As you alter the proportions of each, you can achieve a nice range of various contrasts.

    Ask lots of questions. Between Jorge, William Blunt, Kerik and myself, we can probably save you a year's worth of frustration.
     
  4. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Remember too that when it comes to coating papers, there is no "right" amount. You can't say "You need XXml of total liquid." It will vary with the type of paper used, the method you use to apply it (remember that those brushes absorb some of the liquid) and even the humidity in the room. Sad to say, but with ANY of these processes, it is about practice, practice, practice. I'm about to start Pt/Pd printing myself and I figure if I get it right the first time, I am doing something wrong. A lot of this is more about "feel" and "what works for you".
     
  5. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Clay is right James, from personal experience I know that Clay has saved me more than a year in frustration and lots of money. I have to say that the process would have been 10 times harder if I had not had the benefit of Clay's and Kerik's experience.

    Ask as many questions as you want no matter how dumb you think they are, the alt printing community is very generous with their knowledge and assistance, it is another thing that makes this process so enjoyable.
     
  6. wm blunt

    wm blunt Member

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    Grey Wolf,
    I would recommend a palladium kit from Bostick & Sullivan to get started. It's a small investment and all the materials included are pretty much ready to use. The Richeson 9010 brush is the best and will save a lot of headaches or use a glass rod (puddle pusher). Page 49 of Dick's book pretty well covers making your first print. After you get started you will probably want to try other materials but to start with I believe the kit is the best bet.
    Wm Blunt
     
  7. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Member

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    Thanks for explaining all of this. Now if I am getting the information correct, I will have three separate solutions that I mix together only when I am ready to coat the paper?

    Otherwise these three solutions (made in smaller batches) can sit comfortably in my darkroom until the next time I wish to make a Pt/Pd print?

    I now should be looking for a chemical supply house to buy the chemicals needed to make these three solutions. It seem that I should buy about 10gr. of platinum and 10 gr. of palladium? These will last quite awhile and the the mix ratio is 1:1 so that they both should complete at the same time?

    Do you place these mixed solutions in clean eyedropper bottles? Seems like a small amount of solution so it would seem logical to keep them in small glass bottles.

    Also notice that the recommendation is to do the mixing at quite high temperatures. Is this correct? I guess I am cautious of doing this because in traditional b&w stuff, too high a temperature can have a negative effect on some of the solutions.

    Thanks for the starting help, and yes I am already out seeking the Richeson 9010 brush which I assume is the flat tipped one.

    Kind Regards,
     
  8. Michael Mutmansky

    Michael Mutmansky Member

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    James,

    For the first time purchaser, I recommend following William's recommendation to get the products from B+S in their starter kit. It'll all be mixed and ready for you to do. Yes, It'll cost a bit more in Canada, but the hassle saved is definately worth it.

    This eliminates any concerns that you may have mixed the chemicals wrong, and it gets the chemicals to you in logical bottles, etc.

    After you have made some decent prints, you can decide whether it's worth it to try to track down a supplier for the raw chemicals in CA. There used to be one up there but I don't know if they are still in business.

    http://colba.net/~fotochem/

    It looks like they may still be around...

    If you don't have the ability to get an experienced pt/pd printer to show you the ropes, you will need to eliminate as many variables as possible in the process, and buying pre-made chemicals is one of those that I think should be eliminated if possible.

    Other than that, the Arentz book, and the Sullivan & Weese book are really all you need to get going (plus forums like this, of course). You really only need one, but they are written in different styles, so one book may be better for you than the other for comprehension.

    ---Michael
    ---Michael
     
  9. Michael Mutmansky

    Michael Mutmansky Member

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    James,

    If you can't find a source for the brush in Canada, check out these guys:

    http://www.dixieart.com/FineArts/Jack_Richeson_Series_9000_9010_Watercolor_Rounds_and_Flats.html

    They have the best prices in the US that I have found.

    For 8x10 prints, you probably want a 2" brush. For 4x5 or 5x7, a 1.5" may be better, but I don't know, since I've never used one that small. You could do it with a 2", but you might be a little more precise with a smaller brush.

    For 11x14, you might want to think about a 3", as it will spread out the chemicals faster than the 2".

    ---Michael
     
  10. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    This is sort of off-topic, but I recently began to realize that the Richeson brush size needs to be matched with the print size to some degree. I was coating some 4x6 test wedge prints with a 3" brush, and the resulting prints were really weak and had abnormally low Dmax. I thought I was experiencing some sort of solution 'failure' until I realized that the volume of water still contained in the brush was completely diluting the smaller-than-normal volume of coating solution I was using for this small print (about .3mlFO/.3mlPd). When I switched to the 1-1/2 inch brush, the problem was solved. So the moral is: you can use a smaller brush on a bigger print, but you can't use a bigger brush on a smaller print.
     
  11. Michael Mutmansky

    Michael Mutmansky Member

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    Clay,

    I noticed something similar to this recently. It only shows up on the application of the second coat of sensitizer. When you go to put the brush down for the first time, you need to make sure that you place it into the middle of the puddle of solution, not on a dry portion of the paper next to the solution.

    The water in the brush will start to dissolve the first coat a little if you don't get it into the solution, and that can result in an unevenness in the final print. If you start by dipping the brush in the solution, then the water is not an issue, and everyting will go smoothly.

    When I do test strips, I use a large piece of paper similar to the size of the print, and then cut strips out of the paper. this eliminates some of the variability associated with changing the coating size, etc. This is one case where I disagree with Dick's book, because I don't think a small test strip coating is ever going to be equivalent to a large sheet coating. They are not scaleable in a predictable way.

    This is a good reason for people to sort their paper when then get it. If you have paper with defects, these are the logical pieces to use for the test strips. When I cut a large piece down for a 7x17 print, I am often left with a scrap of paper and two banquet sized pieces. I sort as I cut down, and if one of them has a defect, then it goes into the test sheet pile. The scraps are actually large enough to use for tests also, so I manage to have little waste.

    ---Michael
     
  12. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  13. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    re: metal ferruled brushes with platinum. It's a common question. For some reason, that dictum has gotten passed around in the platinum printing world since god was a kid. Like sightings of Elvis and JFK riding around together in a convertible in the Nevada desert, it sounds plausible, but doesn't prove to a problem in actual practice. I have been using the same Richeson brush for two years, and the only noticeable effect was that my prints got better. But the question always seems to come up. Anybody have an idea what book first mentioned that warning?
     
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  15. wm blunt

    wm blunt Member

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    Aggie,
    I've been using the 9010 brushes for some time now with no problem. The metal ferrel discolors a bit but no problem. The biggest problem is the paint cracking and falling off with the 2 inch model. The 1 inch model doesn't have this problem.
    These ferrels must be a good grade of stainless steel.

    Wm Blunt
     
  16. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  17. Michael Mutmansky

    Michael Mutmansky Member

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    Chalk that one up to "Urban Legend" status. I have never seen a negative result that would even be construed as a result of metal in the brush. Yes, if you have a sloppy, rusted brush that is dropping junk everywhere, then you could have an issue, but if you keep the brush clean and in good shape you won't have any problems.

    Sometimes people get spots on their prints, and have difficult determining where they come from. I think someone along the line thought that it may somehow be a result of a flake of metal contaminating the solution. Then, looking around the lab, decided that the brush is the most likely culprit.

    Rather than the brush, I think it is far more likely that contamination is a result of the heater element in a hair dryer beginning to expel some pieces of metal as it ages.

    The most likely source of black spots is the metal salts. Platinum is close to saturation, so some can drop out of that if it gets too cold or some of the H2O evaportes off. Palladium can also get some 'grit' in it. It looks like carbon, but it isn't from a supersaturated condition.

    The best thing to do is be very aware of the condition of your metal salts, and filter them through filter paper if they show signs of the 'grit'. If the platinum has crystals in it, you can add a few drops of distilled water and then heat up the solution, and you should be back in business.

    ---Michael
     
  18. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    yeah some times as photographers we tend to make things more difficult than they are. If you stop to thnk for a moment, in the 18 and early 1900's they did not use special brushes, or have destilled water for their solutions and I am sure the refining techniques for pt and pd were not up to todays standards, yet they managed to make wonderful prints.

    I am sure using destilled water is a good practice, but I have been using tap water since I moved to mexico to mix ALL the solutions, and have not noticed one bit of a difference from when I used destilled water.
     
  19. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    The biggest problem is the paint cracking and falling off with the 2 inch model. The 1 inch model doesn't have this problem.

    William:

    Go the hardware store and buy some tool grip rubber handle goo. It's the stuff you can use to make your screwdriver handles grippable. Just paint that stuff on your brush handle and hang it bristles up to dry, and it makes a nice non-flaking coating that is cool and sort of hip-industrial.

    And maybe metal ferrules are something that you need to avoid with Van dyke. I don't have enough experience with Van Dyke to say one way or the other, although when I have done VDB prints, I use a non-metal Hake brush, because that is what I had available. I do think it is advisable not to mix processes with the same brush. I have dedicated brushes for platinum/palladium, VDB, cyanotype and teeth.
     
  20. Michael Mutmansky

    Michael Mutmansky Member

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    William,

    If you go to coat the brush with the plastic handle stuff, first take very rough sandpaper and score up the finish a little so it will stick effectively. The first time I did this, the brush was brand new, and it started to peel off pretty quickly.

    I stripped the handles of my brushes, and then used a spar varnish on them. That has worked out well so far, with no cracking of the varnish to report.

    ---Michael
     
  21. wm blunt

    wm blunt Member

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    Clay,
    I'll check on that brush coating goo at Lowes or Home Depot. Wonder if it comes in wild colors?
    Wm
     
  22. Michael Mutmansky

    Michael Mutmansky Member

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    William,

    You can get it in white, black, red, blue, yellow...

    ---Michael
     
  23. wm blunt

    wm blunt Member

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    Michael,
    Great, now there's another decision I have to make!
    Wm
     
  24. Michael Mutmansky

    Michael Mutmansky Member

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  25. wm blunt

    wm blunt Member

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    Thanks Michael,
    First it's to mask or show brush strokes, to single coat or double coat, now to dip my brush or spray.....
    Wm
     
  26. Annie

    Annie Member

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    Just curious... If the metal ferrule is not a problem then would kolinsky sables be suitable?