View Full Version : Wax Paper Negatives

12-10-2007, 09:15 PM
Can anyone explain wax paper negatives; is anyone working with them?

12-10-2007, 11:44 PM
Have you seen the latest ViewCamera? That is the first I've ever heard about them. Quite interesting looking!

12-11-2007, 10:09 AM
Waxing a paper negative or using "waxed paper" (e.g. the stuff you use in the kitchen) as the base material for a paper negative?

Jim Noel
12-11-2007, 12:02 PM
Waxed paper negatives are of two kinds.
The first used by Fox Talbot the image was made on paper sensitized with a silver nitrate solution. The developed negative was then waxed with what was similar to present day parafin. The wax was melted, coated on the negative and then blotted off with successive layers of blotters.
The second devised by Le Gray waxed the paper just after sensitizing it and then made the exposure.

When done correctly the wax is smooth, thin and hardly noticeable until one looks at the negative with transmitted light.

Waxing the paper negative makes it almost as transparent as film. I just completed a salt print from one owned by MoPA apparently from the 1840's, which was a real pleasure to print.

Tom A
12-11-2007, 12:05 PM
It is explained here:

I haven't tried to use a waxed paper negative, but I find it an interesting method for future work :)


12-11-2007, 05:48 PM
So you mean "waxing a paper negative", not making a negative from waxed paper.

Mr. Talbot did indeed wax some of his Callotype's to get better transparency in the negative. Also discussed in "Primitive Photography" by Greene.

Lots of references to waxing paper negatives over at alternativephotography.com and also on the alt-photo mail list (a somewhat regular topic). That is probably archived someplace. Also I seem to remember some discussions of this over at hybridphoto.com in reference to using inkjet paper for negatives.

An alternative to waxing is to use oil (baby oil or other light petroleum oil). But either use a copy negative and make a new one for each session or store the negative in a plastic bag so it doesn't dry out or make a mess.

You may also need to use a sheet of mylar or other clear film to keep the oil or wax off your target paper.

12-12-2007, 12:42 AM
Interesting, thanks to all for the information, the alternative site explains it well.

Samuel Hotton
12-12-2007, 01:44 PM
Sort of related, "A transparent photographic paper with antihalo coating and orthochromatic emulsion". I think it is called RAUDOCOP Hialino negtor. I think it is used in the textile industry.
I thought this might perform as a in camera "paper negative" with the printing ease of waxed paper. No one seems to have heard of it.
Sam H.

12-12-2007, 02:59 PM
Can you melt paraffin or beeswax in a microwave safely?

A friend once almost burned down her house melting paraffin on a gas stove...ignition!

12-12-2007, 04:53 PM
You can probably melt them in a microwave but you would be better off using a dedicated electric hotplate or skillet.

It is pretty tough to kill a microwave so a brief 30 second test on a small chunk in a Pyrex (or similar) cup should be safe. Not sure if you could run it long enough to boil. That would be interesting.

12-12-2007, 05:06 PM
Use a double boiler aka a pyrex bowl over a pan of GENTLY simmering water. It shouldn't burn but don't leave it unattended either. Much less hazardous than direct heating or microwaving.

12-12-2007, 05:11 PM
easy way to melt wax is using water jacket ...
heat water in one container, put the wax in something like a cup or small container
submerge it in the hot water it will melt.

i'm fond of a travel iron ( no holes) , and rubbing the wax on the paper, and running the iron over the back of the print ...
like waxing a pair of skiis ...

12-12-2007, 07:16 PM
Heat wax slowly and to the minimum heat needed to achieve the flow you want. Beyond some not much higher temp., wax starts vaporizing and becomes a health issue. Wax vapor is toxic. Encaustic painters have become aware of this and generally use a slow controlled heat to keep vapors from getting into the air. Carefully handled it is fine.