Small Darkroom Space: Advice?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by JayGannon, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. JayGannon

    JayGannon Member

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    Ok guys I have a challenge, I have a small hallway space outside of my bathroom which I want to use for printing (Bathroom itself is too small) but one side is an open archway.
    Any ideas on a cheap easy way to block off the arch so thats its light tight but still able to walk through without dismantling whatever end up blocking the light coming through arch?

    Attached is a rough outline of my plans, sealing off the doors/window is easy enough (Doors are pretty tight already and the windows has a blackout Velux Blind on it) but the archway is giving me problems.
     

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  2. JayGannon

    JayGannon Member

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    Nope unfortunately this is in the upper floor of the house and the walls are angled quite sharply due to the roof. This cuts into the space I have available but is my only option unfortunately.

    Also of note is that this is a rented house so I cant do anything overly structural or permanent, although our landlord is quite accommodating as long as it doesn't damage or devalue the house in any way =)
     
  3. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Blackout cloth hung on a wire/string/rope fastened with hooks on each side of the arch, maybe?
     
  4. JayGannon

    JayGannon Member

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    Hmm hooks on the side, I hadn't thought of that, I had considered the cloth but was wondering how to secure it to the sides. Just need to work out how to mount the hooks i suppose without ruining the plaster. Might try that though for sure, nice and cheap too.
    Could just roll it up when not in use over the arch.

    If anyone has any other tidbits or advice on layout feel free to advise.
     
  5. michael markey

    michael markey Member

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    Hi Jay

    I`m the last person to offer practical advice of this nature :smile: but couldn`t you make a wooden frame for the cloth that would be self supporting thus obviating the need to secure it along its length.
     
  6. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    In college lived ( bed, desk, reading chair and cable spool coffee table) in a living room that originally had no closure to the door to the common hallway.

    I made up a frame that was like an extruded H that had a middle part just wider than the width of the arch above the doorway.

    The top part of the H I slipped over the plaster above the arch. Into the lower part I pushed lengths of lumber slightly wider than the arch, to spread it wider.

    This made the top part of the H close up and grab the wall. I lined that part with felt so as to not scratch the plaster, and drilled two tiny holes on the inside and inserted small finishing nails to keep the hole affair from slippling down.

    In the beginning I hung a heavy drape; later a door fit into the affair, with a similar H arrangement placed to support the jamb on each vertical.
     
  7. 23mjm

    23mjm Member

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    Here is a few pics of my darkroom--small, uncomfortable, but very functional. It's a semipermanent darkroom, I keep it set up, but tear it down when visitors come to town and stay. I can tear it down it 30-45 minutes and set it up in the same.
     

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  8. mjs

    mjs Member

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    Alternatives to darkroom cloth include window "blackout cloth" which ought to be available from many local fabric stores, or the heavy (thicker) black or dark gray plastic sheeting from your local home improvement store. I had a roll of 6-mil stuff years ago which was superb at keeping light out of my improvised darkroom. A self-supporting wooden frame made simply and cheaply of 1x2 would eliminate any danger of damage to the wall covering. Good luck!

    Mike
     
  9. JayGannon

    JayGannon Member

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    Ok I have a fabric shop sending me a sample of their various blackout materials and then I'll order some of that if they are suitable.
    I also just got an LPL 4x5 enlarger so need so see how I am going to fit that into the space =)
     
  10. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    A thick black cloth with velcro will keep it light tight. I've done it. You can get a thinner black sheet and line it with black plastic. that will work too.
     
  11. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    Consider using some of the removable hooks, tape, or glue to attach blackout cloth on both sides of archway. Best option would be to have velcro on sides and top, with plenty to "bunch up" on floor. Alternatively, a piece of 1/4 x 2" molding (from Home Depot or similar) can be attached at the top of the archway with 3-4 screws, then use velcro to attach blackout cloth (I've used this method for hanging handmade quilts). Consider a length of 2x6 across the bottom for added light blocking at the floor.

    There are a number of tapes and caulks that are removable (often used for winterizing homes) that may be useful.
     
  12. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    The fabric store black out cloth works well. I use it on an open doorway from one part of a second bathroom to another. Double draped so entry and exit is possible. It's held up by a standard curtain rod and attached with velcro on opposite sides. It makes the room dark enough for handling film as long as no lights are on in the other part.
     
  13. Neil Poulsen

    Neil Poulsen Member

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    Since it's an arch, you could screw two of those hooks (that look like question marks) on either side of the door. Then, put the cloth on a curtain rod and hang the rod on those hooks. When your session is done, remove the rod but not the hooks.

    What are the dimensions of the space?

    Another idea when using a small sink is to have only two trays. Use one tray for developer and the other for stop, fix, etc. After removing the print from the developer, have stop in the second fix. Then, pour the stop back into a pitcher and pour in fix. And so on with other pitchers and chemicals.
     
  14. StigHagen

    StigHagen Member

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    Invest in a Nova FB Fibre Based Print Processor. It has really changed my life :smile: You can develope large prints in a very small space. But the best thing, you DON'T need to set up, add chemicals, wash trays and pack it down everytime you print. And as an added bonus the chemistry lasts longer. Now I am able to use even 30 minutes of my spare time for darkroom work.

    http://www.novadarkroom.com/product/164/Nova_FB_Fibre_Based_Print_Processor.html
     
  15. jerry lebens

    jerry lebens Member

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    It doesn't say on your plan what's outside the archway. Isn't it possible to cover over whatever light sources exist beyond the archway? I once spent ages trying to rig a light tight curtaiin the middle of a long, oddly shaped, corridor when I realised that I actually only needed to cover the window in the door at the end, with a but of card... If it can be done it may be simpler and you'll end up with more space than if you closed the archway - you may not need the space to work in but the darkroom will feel less stifling, which is important if you intend to spend long periods in there.

    Otherwise, if you can't attach screws or hooks to the wall, one way of holding up a curtain would be to use a "plasterers deadman". It's a device used for holding plaster boards up to the ceiling joists while you nail them up, but you can also use them horizontally to jam between two walls as a support for a curtain (they're a bit like Manfrotto Autopoles but much cheaper). Here's one from a UK catalogue, I'm sure they exist everywhere else in places like builders merchants http://www.screwfix.com/prods/14003...ools/Props-Accessories/Extension-Support-Rod# All you need to do is sew a fairly deep hem at one end of your curtain, in order to pass the pole through. Bingo, instant curtain rod.

    Regards
    Jerry
     
  16. JayGannon

    JayGannon Member

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    Ah yes that would be important, outside the arch is a roll with 3 skylights and 2 large windows =) Hence its easier to block the arch than the windows.
    I'll go with the frame/rollers idea with the cloth and report back =)

    Thanks for the help guys/gals.