Separation Anxiety - Carbon not letting go..

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by sly, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    I'm new to carbon printing. Took workshop with Vaughn 10 days ago and am now playing with the tissues I brought home.

    I'm having trouble separating the film and tissue from the fixed out RC paper. After exposure (with a cardstock matt over glass for unexposed edge), I'm mating them in cold water (50C). Out of the water in 20-30 seconds, squeegee'd, dried with shamwow cloth, pressed under glass. Tonight, after getting 5 under glass, I paused for dinner.
    After dinner, hot water (110-120C). Soaked for 3 minutes before trying to separate - gelatin was seeping nicely from the edges. The first 3 prints a section of the glop completely separated from the film. After another 5 minutes in the hot water half the image was visible, the other half obscured under thick blackness. Giving it more time and pouring warm water on that section eventually dissolved the excess, and the prints look OK.
    The last 2 prints the glop stuck to the film, and a portion of the image stayed there, leaving a blank, white patch on the paper. Not salvagable, obviously.
    I brush sensitized between 1 and 2 PM. Developed film for an hour and a bit while they were drying. Exposures, squeegeeing, and pressing were all done before 5. Dinner break, back to work before 6. Processed in same order as went under the glass (so all were under glass for at least 30 minutes.) Done around 7:30.
    One thing I'm not doing as taught - I'm not using 16x20 glass to press my 4x5's. I just don't have the counter space beside the 16x20 sheet I'm squeegeeing on. I'm using 8x10 glass with a weight on top - a full 2 liter bottle. Could that be the problem? Too much weight? Not enough?
    Any insight gratefully appreciated.
     
  2. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    I usually put a 5Kg(ish) weight on top of the mated sandwich. After an hour or two, it goes in to the hot water bath and I keep slopping the water around until the tissue separates on it's own accord. It usually takes ten to fifteen minutes before this happens.
     
  3. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Are you using a safe edge?

    I've had nothing but problems with this as well, always from fixed out RC paper. I haven't given carbon a very serious attempt yet, so it's hard for me to say with much confidence (it's always been as an aside to something else I've been focusing on), but I wonder if fixed out RC paper doesn't cause some kind of problem. Perhaps the hardeners in the fixer are insolubizing the tissue?

    IDK, just a thought.
     
  4. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I have a little carbon experience. I don't like RC paper for anything, so when everyone said to try it, I didn't. I used Bostick and Sullivan tissue. I do not put weight of any kind on it. I just adhere it, waited 20 minutes and soaked it in warm water, 100ºF. Sometimes the prints take a longtime to let go. Up to 15 minutes to just begin separating. Three minutes is too soon. I give the smallest tug, and if there's any resistance, I wait longer. I almost always get good results when adhering to YUPO or to uncoated baryta paper. I've also made a few good prints on COT-320 sized with hardened gelatin. You can see a few of my carbon prints in my gallery here at APUG .

    I assume you know about the Advanced Process and Carbon Board.

    http://bostick-sullivan.invisionzone.com/
     
  5. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    20-30 seconds seems like a short soak time to me.
    I usually soak the tissue for 1.5 minutes, slip RC paper into the water just to get it wet and pull the sandwich out within a few seconds. Of couse, as is the way with carbon transfer, your glop formula, sensitizer, exposure, support, water temperature and the phase of the moon are all significant variables. In my experience, a slight, but EVEN pressure is all that is needed - large amounts of pressure don't accomplish much except increase the risk of marks. My 2 cents CDN.

    Cheers!
     
  6. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    What's your water like in Nanaimo? Have you tried cold, dead water for the transfer? I put a bit of vinegar in the transfer bath to make it slightly acidic and that seems to help. My water is a bit alkaline.
    If you are going to stick with RC paper, use a non-hardening fix, such as Ilford's rapid fix and wash paper thoroughly. I soak my tissue longer than most people. 2.5 minutes. The RC substrate is stuck in, mated and pulled immediately, squeegeed, wiped with sponge, and left under heavy glass. I always place a 4L milk jug (containing water) so that glass is pressing down firmly.
     
  7. gmikol

    gmikol Member

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    I would think you might have to soak the tissue longer in water before mating.. I soak my tissues up to 2 minutes in 55-60F water prior to mating with RC or FB photo paper. They're thick, like Vaughn makes, but I use glycerin instead of sugar (and it tends to be a little drier where I am compared to a coastal location.

    The gelatin has to absorb enough water that it melts readily in the hot water development, and not so much that it interferes with the mating. Try extending the soaking time before mating before you change any other variables and see where it gets you.

    Good luck--

    Greg
     
  8. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    Ok, I have a few variables to play with - vinegar in the transfer water (my well water is alkaline) and a longer soak in the transfer bath before mating. Vaughn had suggested that the soak, mating, and squeegeeing should all happen in a minute. I've been letting the water sit (so it's dead) before using. I'd already decided to leave a wider safe edge. Also a longer soak in the hot water before trying to separate.
    Now all I need is more darkroom time.
     
  9. Jim Fitzgerald

    Jim Fitzgerald Member

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    The joy of carbon is figuring out your work flow. Good luck.
     
  10. John Jarosz

    John Jarosz Member

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    I'll assume you made some good prints at the workshop. That is your starting point.

    Any change can have a good or bad effect (but usually bad). 99.9% of the population that makes Carbon transfer prints does not know all the cause/effect relationships that exist. Further, Carbon is not a process that you can make changes to by rationalizing or using logic to be able to say that your change will not have an effect.

    Go back to the process exactly as you learned it and get some good prints. That is your starting point. Then you can change process parameters ONE AT A TIME to see if your new process will work.

    Different water can have an effect, so can humidity, temperature, drying time, phase of the moon (oh, someone already said that ), type of support, transfer time, soak time.

    You're in a relatively easy position because you've made good prints before - so you know how to do it.

    John
     
  11. Vaughn

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    Hello Sly! I am back from the hinterlands and limited internet. After the workshop, I photographed at Dry Falls, then over to Spokane for a week -- splitting firewood, bucking hay out the fields and into the barns, digging a 8 foot deep hole to repair a leak in the water supply line from the well/pump and a whole bunch of other fun stuff.

    You wrote: "The last 2 prints the glop stuck to the film, and a portion of the image stayed there, leaving a blank, white patch on the paper."

    That is the usual sign of an over-exposed print. The tissue has been hardened all the way down to the tissue support material, and that part of the image stays with the tissue support. In this case, there is no layer of unexposed gelatin between the image and the tissue support to melt and allow one to completely separate the tissue support from the final support.

    Was there a significant exposure difference between the first 3 processed and the last ones?

    I suppose one would see the same effect with tissue that sponataneously hardened, but I do not see where that would come in from your methods. One thing that will cause the tissue to harden and difficult to separate is excessive heat during exposure. The glass should not be hot to the touch - warm is okay. The time span of your process (6 or so hours) was not excessive, as I normally go double that...as long as the sensitized tissue was stored sensibly, which I am sure you did.

    The fixed-out RC should be fine and dandy for transfer. I have used fixer with and without hardener on fiber paper and saw not difference in the handling processing or final results. I generally do not use hardener in order to aid washing the paper. Gelatin tends to harden on its own over time, thus it might be a moot point (I tend to fix out a large batch of paper at a time, so it is around for awhile before I use it).

    Thick, homemade tissue is a whole different beast from the B&S tissue. What works for one may not hold true with the other. You could try increasing the time in the transfer path, if you continue to have trouble separating the tissue support. You will know you have gone too far when you start to get filling around the edges of the image (the edges of the image float off the final support.

    You could also let the transfer bath water warm up to 60F and go with the same over-all time. That should allow for a little more water absorption (I figure it was 50F, not 50C that you transferred in :wink: ).

    Unfortunately, I do not remember anyone having problems with frilling during the workshop. Dang lazy students...expecting the instructor to make all the mistakes for them! LOL!

    Good luck!

    Vaughn
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2011
  12. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    How about using non-fixed out RC (or fiber) paper? It doesn't seem like that should change anything, but perhaps there is an excess of hardener present in the paper that needs to be washed out.

    I used this for some tissues, since it doesn't really matter if the tissue paper goes dark or not.
     
  13. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    If the paper isn't fixed it will discolor in time.
     
  14. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Which wouldn't be a problem for a tissue.
     
  15. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    I'd be inclined to fix and wash paper - silver halides and other goodies may react with the dichromate sensitizer (think carbro).
     
  16. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Ahh, right! I now remember hearing this ere. How quickly I forget some things.. :sideways:
     
  17. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    Well, the short answer is yes. The 2 shortest exposures separated well. 2 that were exposed for the middle (same) length of time had one failure and one success. The longest exposure also failed. The puzzling thing is that 2 days before I had used this same lengthy exposure time for 2 prints, which both separated fine. One of the failed prints was the same neg, same exposure time. Worked fine one day, didn't separate at all 2 days later.

    Maybe I wasn't wearing the right socks or had my tongue stuck out of the left side of my mouth.
     
  18. Vaughn

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    And my thick tissues make it a real chore to actually expose down to the base!

    I believe there was left-over sensitized tissue from the workshop -- did any get mixed up with the unsensitized? Spontaneous hardening over that period of time would certainly give the results you were experiencing. If the good and bad prints came from the same big sheet of tissue, that would blow that theory!
     
  19. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    I used up the last of the tissue I brought home last night. Got one reasonable print.

    The longest exposure was as long as the ones that wouldn't peel last time, but this time I used a fan, took a bit longer in the transfer bath, and waited longer (5 min) before trying to peel. None of them refused to separate.

    Here's the best from last night.

    I'm about to go camping for a couple of days. Hope the rain stops and I'm able to take some shots that I can overdevelop for carbon prints.
     

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  20. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    Glad that one worked out for you. It's absolutely pouring rain here.. has been since last night, non-stop.
     
  21. Jim Fitzgerald

    Jim Fitzgerald Member

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    Sly, keep at it. Carbon printing is all about finding balance. The more you print the more it makes sense.