tea brands for toning cyanotypes

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by sly, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    I recieved a lovely tea-toned cyanotype from hermit in the last postcard exchange. I was inspired to try teatoning again. Previously my tonal range tended to be from dark chocolate to mud. Same results this time - highlights gone completely. I tried different strengths - I had started with 8 teabags in 2 liters of water. Too strong? How about 1 teabag in 1 liter, not letting it steep - dunking in the photo with the brew still hot, the colour quite pale, and only a couple of minutes to soak - still got mud. A little lighter, perhaps, but still very little range between highlights and shadows. Dang! What's the secret?

    A couple of days ago I had a print I wasn't happy with (big thread across it), and thought I'd try teatoning again. Took the cold dregs from the teapot, added twice as much water, dunked the photo for a few minutes and got a result I liked. Highlights slightly toned, but still very distinct, and shading nicely into the dark brown of the shadows.

    What was different? The tea. I'd been doing my toning with a cheap no-name brand. CZ Anderson's book "Alternative Processes Condensed" suggests that cheap nasty tea is better for toning as it has more tannins.

    Last night I went through the cupboards and pulled out all the black teas, and the ancient jar of instant coffee kept for guests that gotta have java.

    So the verdict - Red Rose (my husband's everyday tea) was hands down the best for toning. The coffee was pitiful - very pale - but then instant isn't really coffee is it? Two "fancy" teas (Yorkshire Gold and Murchie's Golden Jubilee) were not bad. The others (one a special blend, the other, er, a box with ?Sanskrit? writing and no English) were muddy.

    So what do you use for tea-toning? Got a favorite flavour?
     
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I wouldn't use anything drinkable for toning, so Yellow Lipton's is great. For toning. :wink:

    PS: I don't bleach before toning, so the awful yellow stuff gives a very good steel-blue-black tone with pinkish highlights!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2009
  3. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I wonder how you'd do with loose teas. (That's all I drink.) You could probably reuse previously-used leaves for toning - that would accentuate your tannin content (if that's actually useful) and save you money, since it'd be a shame to waste a drinkable steep. :smile:

    Darjeelings would be more subtle, with pale yellow-green-brown tones.

    Assams would be darker, very brown, almost chocolatey at times. They might be more likely to deepen your highlights, which you don't seem to want.

    Ceylons would probably be a lot like the Assams. (They taste completely different though.)

    A Chinese Keemun would have a more red-brown tone, far deeper than Darjeeling but not as deep as Ceylon or Assam.
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    It's only a guess as I have never used it for toning but in the U.K. we can now get South African Rooibos( Afrikaans for redbush) tea. I have never seen any tea which looks as red and I suspect it might produce a nice red/brown effect.

    As a tea it is an acquired taste and quite unlike any Indian tea I have tasted but OK for an occasional drink and might make a nice reddish toner

    pentaxuser
     
  5. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    Ole, I'm bleaching with washing soda before toning - I like warm tones. I'll play around now that I have a tea that works for me.
    PhotoJim - all the teas were loose except the Red Rose - and I opened up the teabag so I could measure a teaspoon for the experiment.
    Pentaxuser - I was wondering about Rooibos. I'm not fond of it and gave away the stash I had. I wonder about other herbal infusions. What about all those fruity ones full of hibiscus? My favorite - Licorice Spice is very pale - so not worth a try. The acidity of the brew is important, isn't it? Would green tea do anything?
    I don't drink tea (or coffee) so I'll be happy for now to use my husbands Red Rose.
     
  6. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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    How about posting a picture so we can see what you are getting?
     
  7. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    Well, er.... I'm printing on fabric using large digital negs (from scanned film, of course!), so stictly speaking I can't post on APUG. My darkroom has been unusable (see my RANT elsewhere), so I'm mucking about in the kitchen and laundry room with these until I can get back to silver.
     
  8. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    A pot of tea made with half normal tea and half Redbush is nice. Not sure about its toning properties though.


    Steve.
     
  9. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Can't you just buy tannic acid from somewhere? Every tea will stain the paper whereas you'll get much cleaner paper base and highlights with plain tannic acid... And, definitely clear very thoroughly (develop, then clear in mild citric or acetic acid for instance...)! If not, you'll again get muddy / stained highlights and low contrast.

    Regards,
    Loris.
     
  10. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    Please don't tell my wife, however I snagged a bag of her Miles tea that is sent to us by a friend in Somerset. 1 bag, brewed for a longish period of time and it did a great job. Bill Barber
     
  11. JOSarff

    JOSarff Member

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    In Mexico they make a tea from the hybiscus flower, and it very red. I's called Jamica. I've seen it in mexican groceries in the states.
     
  12. amuderick

    amuderick Member

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    I use tannic acid for the same reason Loris mentions...excessive staining of the highlights. I've been working on a process that suits me and taking lots of notes. There is a lot of conflicting information and misinformation out there. Mike Ware is a good source for correct info. So much cyanotype literature has been published by people who have no concept of the chemistry and/or take sloppy notes.

    Here are my steps:

    1) use original cyanotype process (I haven't yet tried Mike Ware's Cyanotype II)
    2) coat Arches Platine paper two times for increased shadow density in final print
    3) add stop bath to adjust pH (I have an electronic meter) of wash bath to 5.5-6
    4) wash print 3x in new water from step 3
    5) wash in dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide
    6) wash print in fresh water from step 3
    6) soak in tannic acid solution (1g/100ml) for 5-10 minutes, agitate occasionally
    7) prepare sodium carbonate (washing soda) bath with pH around 8-9
    8) agitate print in sodium carbonate bath until just BEFORE print reaches the desired tone (blue steel -> reddish is the transition)
    9) immediately move to acidic wash bath of step 3
    10) wash thoroughly
    11) dry

    This 'split toning' gives you the best control over final color. The acid bath prevents loss of highlights and density during the wash process. The peroxide fully develops the iron blue salt so that the tones you see are the final tones. The tannic acid keeps the stock white.

    I am working on integrating Gallic acid to add purple/black to the image but I am having trouble with the iron gallate bleeding and destroying sharpness. A few more months of experiments and I'll have something I am happy with.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2009
  13. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    You should lbe able to get tannic acid in wine making shops. I've got some, but I've only successfully toned one or two prints. As soon as we start getting some warm sprintime sun, I'll try some fresh prints... this thread is sparking my interest in cyanotypes again.

    Cheers,
     
  14. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    I've posted a few of my tea-toned fabric cyanotypes over on hybridphoto if anyone wants a look. One is split toned and the other 2 were bleached and toned with Red Rose.