Varnishing alt. proc. prints

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Fulvio, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

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    With pigment printing tecniques (oilprint, gum bichromate, bromoil) some artists protect the final image with a varnish, generally the same used for paintings. The varnish protects the surface of the print and adds a little glossy finish.

    There are also varnishes specific for regular silver bromide papers, although I never used one. There are some that are said to be able to turn a glossy print into a matte and vice versa.

    How about using a glossy varnish on a cyanotype, a van dyke, a salt print, a POP print or any other alternative photographic print?

    Wouldn't have the varnish side effects or affect image permanence? If not, which varnish should one use? And how about protecting the print first with a gelatin bath?

    I actually tried spraying the same varnish I use for bromoils onto some exposed and developed test strips from saltprints and gelatin-chloride prints. There was no reaction from the paper or the chemistry. The prints became glossy, with a subtle apparent increasing of density.

    The point is: while matte prints can be very nice, sometimes it would be equally nice to have some glossy print...
     
  2. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    The only thing I am familiar with is the combination of beeswax and lavender oil used together on salt prints, which gives a slightly higher gloss and some protection. More, general information can be found in this pdf: http://admin.arp-geh.org/content/pdf/109.pdf

    Some types of varnishes has the tendency to yellow and crack with time, and I suppose there's a risk that the varnish may do more bad than good in the longer run. Even an untoned and unvarnished salt print would probably outlast me, and when I am gone, it's none of my business anymore. :smile:

    If you want glossier prints, I guess Albumen prints would fit the bill nicely.
     
  3. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

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    yeah... I've read that paper before; but doesn't say much about effects on image deterioration. I've read somewhere else (perhaps some Mike Ware article) that albumen in a long time can do harm to the print for example. Of course we're into the area "it's not my business anymore" :smile:

    The varnish I have here is designed for "oil paints, acrylics, pencil, pastels". The label says: "16% chetonic (?) resin, 49% distilled petrol compounds, 35% GPL propeller (it's an aerosol), UV filter" - "Highly flammable, irritant".

    It's a rough translation from Italian.
     
  4. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I have expiremented a lot with methods of adding more gloss to kallitype and Pt./Pd. prints. In the end I decided that I really just like the matte look, and if I want prints with more gloss I make a carbon.

    However, instead of waxes, varnish, etc. I suggest you just try a gum over printing. This is a a historical process that has a proven history of archival stability. Kirk Kouklis and Clay Harmon are well know for this procedure and might offer suggestions for just a plain gum-over to add a bit of sheen to the print.

    Sandy King
     
  5. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

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    Varnish is not such a bad thing. We all know that many prints look best when they are still in the water, and when they dry down, they loose some of their luminosity, and their shadow values. Printers are used to take regard of this loss when calculating the exposure. A good varnish restors at least some of this luminosity, and the shadow values. There are concerns about the permanence, particularly if the process is supposed to be very permanent (pl/pd, chrysotype), but there are very high quality varnishes which are supposed to be quite archival, and in any case, should your prints end up with collectors or in a museum, there are restaurators who take care of old varnishes.
    Varnishes come with different surfaces, too.

    And, Sandy, while pigment over metal certainly helps with tonality and local contrast, the dry-down effect is still there, and neither becomes the print more glossy. Pigment over metal salt (casein over chrysotype, in my case) also may be altered/enhanced with a good varnish, if the respective effects are wished for. It is just that there seems today some common perception that the "matte surface" of a metal salt print is part of its particular aesthetic quality. But one might also see there just a wide-spread prejudice.
     
  6. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Years ago, photographers used lithographer's varnish well diluted with turpentine to increase the gloss of matte prints. There are many of these prints still in existence and they show no signs of any problems. The mixture was applied sparingly to the print and then immediately wiped off. There should be not apparent residue on the print only an increase in the gloss. I have done this myself and it works rather well.
     
  7. rwanda

    rwanda Member

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    this old style of varnish described by gerald was the formula used by paul strand. in this case and with others there was sometimes a stain in the edge of the paper,where the turpentine went in. a more modern approach was to use synvar varnish,diluted and sparingly....i have prints over 35 y.o with no trace of deterioation. remember to apply in circular motion and to avoid letting it seep into the paper edge where there is no emulsion.