I am required to complete a project for my studio class in which I must blend two of my interests. I have boiled the list down to photography and cooking. I am thinking of creating some albumen prints and I am trying to do so with the materials I have on hand. I know I will have to buy silver nitrate, but I am curious if I can use the Kodak Rapid-Fix with the prints. Also, any pitfalls any of you have had and could tell me it would help.
I can't really help at all with any of your questions, but I just had to say I think this is a really cool project. One day soon I want to try albumen for myself. Good luck!
I have just discovered that you can also use Coffee or Tea as a toner.. Maybe I can create most of a photo via food?
I would suggest using a alkaline fixer. These are more gentle than acid style fixers. water 750mls. 250 grams Sodium Thiosulfate. 15 grams Sodium sulfite. 10 grams Sodium Metaborate. then water to 1 litre. Fix for about 10 minutes. When coating your paper with Albumen I suggest double coating and using Isopropyl Alch to help dry. I have found this leads to better coating. The other option is to try Salt printing. A few less steps. The image is in the paper not on it. It almost looks like a sepia watercolour when untoned.
The Kitchen Photographer. You also can use coffee as a film developer, there have been several threads about it here on Apug. Also, Phototechniques had an article several years ago about making a pyro developer for film with green tea. Dilute white vinegar works as a stop bath. As for prints, you can make albumen or you could also try salt prints. Both will require Silver Nitrate, which is not found in very many kitchens. Of course, you could try Anthotypes (search Apug) which can be made with wine, vegitables, flowers, berries, etc. I suppose you could also make your own paper from old kitchen rags, but that may be going too far.
I would not use rapid fix with Albumen. Use a standard fixer - I use TF-2. I make my albumen from the egg whites sold in the grocery store - they come in a container like a quart milk container. I then make a large quantity of paper over the following weeks and let it age by air drying rather than using alcohol, though there's nothing wrong with the alcohol method.
I'm not usually a magic bullet believer, but the Richeson brush is one. Search the name here. It has very soft artificial bristles that do not absorb the silver nitrate the way others do.
Ok, egg whites are beaten, resting in the fridge. So begins the project.
Use a two-bath plain hypo as fixer. I would definitely not use any kind of rapid fixer, or you'll bleach the image right off the paper.
The first part of the process can be non-toxic. I use egg white, sea salt, and vinegar and mix this solution using my ordinary kitchen utensils.
Silver nitrate and everything after is toxic. Gold toning is traditional, but selenium toning also works. The image must be toned. Coffee will color the paper excessively. Tea might be interesting, but I haven't tried it.
Read Reilly's book, which you can download from albumen.stanford.com
I have downloaded and read most of Reilly's book, but there are two things I am curious about..
1) As the Albumen denatures in the fridge, will it become less viscous?
2) Before sizing the paper ( I plan to do this next Sunday), should I let the mixture sit and come back up to room temperature for a while?
The mixture becomes less viscous and more uniform in general, but always filter through cheesecloth whenever the solution goes from the container where you keep it to the tray and back. Keep the solution clean and refrigerated when not in use, and it will last a very long time, particularly if you use a little acid as a preservative.
The albumen mixture should be at room temperature before coating.
I recommend floating the paper, both for the albumenizing and sensitizing steps. This takes some practice, and there are a few different ways of doing it, but it was the standard historical method, and people who made thousands of albumen prints evidently found they got the best results this way, even though they must have been aware of other methods used for other print processes. Any kind of brushing of the silver nitrate solution will leave brush marks, which you may want and find interesting as an aesthetic choice, but if you want a uniform coating, I wouldn't do it that way. Some people have been able to achieve a uniform coating with a coating rod, laying down a line of silver nitrate solution and drawing it across the paper in one smooth motion--no pushing it around--and cutting off the edge where the silver nitrate first contacts the paper. John Coffer seals two sheets together back to back with rubber cement, fully immerses the paper in both the albumen and silver nitrate solutions, and then cuts off the sealed edges.