Relief Photographs on Metal

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by numnutz, Aug 18, 2007.

  1. numnutz

    numnutz Member

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    Hi - A strange question is this one:

    I recently visited an ex-boss of mine. I used to work for him in the darkroom as a printer. Most of the work we used to do when I started was for itinerent street photographers and photographers who used to cold call on houses - "Hello Missis would you like some pictures taken of the kids?" etc.

    One of the printed effects that the company used to do was to print a photograph on a (very) soft thin sheet of metal, hand colour it and then mould it onto a plaster base that had a relief image of the same image moulded on it so that it appeared the photograph was slightly three dimensioned. I never saw this produced and wonder if anyone here could tell me how it was done - all I have seen is two examples, one of the bosses grandmother full face and one of a couple full length. At a guess I would suggest the metal was zinc / lead combination.

    I am interested in both how the print was put on the metal and how the plaster (if it is plaster) base was moulded to be so much like the picture formed over it. I have quizzed my ex-boss about the process and he hasn't a clue how it was produced but says he remembers the process lasted until the early 1930's and was quite popular.

    Does anyone have any comments?

    Thanks in advance.

    nn :smile:


    P.S. As the process seems rather alternative I have posted it here but Mods please move it if you feel it is more appropriate elseware.
     
  2. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    There are a couple possibilities that would give similar results.

    One is carbon printing that can create an image that has a raised relief -- a very permanent image is created using gelatin and pigments of your choice...and transfered onto a final support (paper, glass, metal). The blacks are made of a thicker layer of gelatin than the whites. This is the process I use.

    Then one could use the same process, or with photo-sensitive polymers to create a raised relief that can then be pressed paper or metal -- or used to create a mold to pour the plaster onto to create the relief in plaster.

    I believe the Hybrid forum has a discussion on the polymers.

    Vaughn
     
  3. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    I wouldn't be surprised if the relief was done by hand back then. Quicker and easier than any chemical process. Engraving processes and plastic polymer plates like Dilitho make very deep relief images for letterpress printing but I would think that too expensive for the likes of what you describe.
     
  4. numnutz

    numnutz Member

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    Thanks for all your help.

    I think the photograph was printed onto the soft metal that had a normal paper type emulsion on it. It was then probably subject to some moulding by hand and then plaster was poured into the mould formed by the metal.

    nn :smile:
     
  5. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    Gelatin hardened with alum can be surprisingly tough. The historic Woodburytype print process used a hardened gelatin relief to mould lead sheet by direct pressure. The lead could then be repeatedly inked or flooded with a gelatin/carbon mix and the image transferred to paper. Alternatively, a plaster cast could be made which reproduces the relief of the gelatin layer.

    Direct carving of ceramics to create relief was the norm in earlier times, but was expensive and required skilled craftsmen, so was unlikely to have been used for door-to-door sales in the 30s. I suspect that a soft metal foil was burnished onto a gelatin relief, paint or other colourants flooded into the relevant areas, and then plaster or other ceramic cast into the resulting mould. Not a technique for large scale production, but for a one-off it would work well enough and would be simple and cheap.

    There is a fair bit of information about Woodburytypes online, but this page in particular talks about some of the ceramic variants:

    http://www.alternativephotography.com/process_woodburytype.html
     
  6. julien789

    julien789 Member

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    PHOTOGRAPHS IN RELEIF IN METAL (PIRIM)

    I KNOW YOUR MESSAGE WAS A WHILE AGO .
    I HAVE SOME OF THESE PHOTOGRAPHS.
    AND BELIEVE I KNOW A LITTLE ABOUT THE SYSTEM USED.
     
  7. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    4 years ago :wink:
     
  8. vyshemirsky

    vyshemirsky Member

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    Well, tell us then! :smile:
     
  9. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    And share them!

    I just read the original post and my curiousity was certainly piqued.
     
  10. Brownman

    Brownman Member

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    Me too!!! I've done quite a bit of resin casting in the past and have often wondered how i could do printing in layers to give a final 3D illusion in a transparent support. I'm sure somebody has done something like this already (reminds me of embedded in resin Eiffel Tower keychains sold in Paris souvenir shops) but maybe i'd try multiple gums in resin? hmmmmm.
     
  11. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    Referring to Luis Nadeau's Encyclopedia, there are several processes that resemble what has been described here: Relief photographs set with plaster or wax, frequently hand coloured. At this time I haven't any details regarding the "how to", but I'm hoping to hear back from Luis soon (if anybody knows, it's him)
     
  12. Keith Dugdale

    Keith Dugdale Member

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    Hi All,
    My first post, hope this thread is still alive.
    Many years ago someone who ran a charity shop showed me a couple of "prints".
    They were relief prints on metal. both portraits, had never seen the like before.
    I took photographs of both back and front. One of the prints was damaged and there appeared to be plaster under the metal surface.
    I asked many people about them but got no answer.
    On the back was the word "PIRIM" and between these large letters it said "Portraits in relief in metal"
    the address was given as "40 Pall Mall, London SW1" also Patent numbers 397798-418268.
    The reason for me posting this now, is that I was searching through an old back up drive, and came across the image,
    I decided to Google about and this thread popped up.

    Keith Dugdale.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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