View Full Version : receipe and supply materials needed for collodion wet plate

04-12-2010, 10:09 AM
I want to try wetplate collodion proces if there is a supply center to buy all the chemichals already mixed. Or if I need to mixed myself I need some help with receipes and supply

04-12-2010, 12:23 PM
call me at 818 632 2035 I may be of help

Barry S
04-12-2010, 12:36 PM
Bostick and Sullivan carries a full line of wet plate supplies now--including premixed iodizer and collodion, developer, and varnish.

04-13-2010, 10:00 AM
I need some supply center in Europe -I found the kit for collodion at Bostik and Sullivan but they don t ship internationaly

04-13-2010, 10:13 AM
Yes they do.

05-01-2010, 09:05 PM
Does anyone here know of someone in the St. Louis area that would give some 'hands on' instruction of this process? We have a photo club and there is more than one person that is interested in learning. One person was found and wanted to charge for a demo, that was ok with everyone but then the person didn't want others to get their 'hands on learning' which is what everyone wanted. We are not against paying someone though everyone is a student so budgets do need to be kept in mind. I just thought I would put it out there that someone is trying to learn and see what kind of networking here might do to help us out.

Thanks in advance, feel free to PM me or email me.

05-27-2010, 04:59 PM
dont forget to check a few of the forums out there dedicated to wet plate.

John Coffer www.johncoffer.com/
Quinn Jacobson www.studioq.com/forum
Scully and Osterman www.collodion.org/

just to name a few. Recipes are very easy and it is best to work small batches, DO not make a liter of working collodion the first go around. Bostick and Sullivan do sell kits, and they work well for entry into the black paw world.

Welcome aboard


Anton Lukoszevieze
05-29-2010, 03:45 AM
You can make a litre of unsalted collodion, this will last ages :) But, if trying out yes get a ready made kit as advised. Artcraft chemicals send abroad also and are incredibly quick, great for silver nitrate! http://www.artcraftchemicals.com/

05-31-2010, 09:11 PM
I've actually just ordered some chemicals for my own little startup, though I've had some prior experience with wetplate. If you don't even know where to begin, perhaps a kit is a good way to go since mixing chemicals isn't even the half of it. But on the other hand, here's what I'm working from. To have my bases covered these recipes are taken directly from one of my instructors who took John Coffer's workshop a couple years ago.

As far as the salted collodion goes, there are two recipes that I'm familiar with, "Old Workhorse" and "Poe Boy". They both work though I haven't yet tried the "Poe Boy" recipe (those chemicals are currently on their way).

Salted Collodion Mixtures

“Old Workhorse” Collodion –

0.85 grams Cadmium Bromide

0.7 grams Ammonium Bromide

3 ml. distilled water

2 grams Potassium Iodide

100 ml. grain alcohol (190 proof) I use “Everclear” brand

100 ml. plain collodion USP (Flexible collodion will not work).

Part A_

In a small glass beaker or jar dissolve the .85 grams of Cadmium Bromide and the 0.7 grams of Ammonium Bromide into 3 ml. of distilled water. Using a glass stir rod, mix until the Bromides dissolve completely (if you have trouble dissolving them mix over a low heat source). Then add the 2 grams of Pot. Iodide and again dissolve completely. Finally add the 100 ml. of grain alcohol. This comprises Part A

Part B_

In a separate container (I use a “Ball” canning jar), add the 120 ml. of plain collodion and the 50 ml. of ether. Always add the ether to the collodion and not the other way around. Stir well.

Finally, add the Part A mixture to the Part B and shake/stir to mix. Let sit for at least several days to allow collodion to “clear” and settle. Sediment will develop on bottom of bottle. Never shake or stir this up before use, as it will cause problems. I pour off the “cleared” collodion into a smaller “screw-to” bottle once it has cleared.


"Poe Boy" (as per Coffer's website)

240 ml plain collodion
300 ml denatured alcohol
6ml distilled water
3g pot. bromide
5g pot iodide.

add the alcohol to the collodion.
add pot bromide to the distilled water till dissolved. then add the pot iodide to that mix till dissolved. add this mix to the above mix or alcohol and collodion.
Let it set for a few days. flow away!

Silver Bath –

36 grams of silver nitrate

400 ml. distilled water

Add silver nitrate crystals to distilled water…mix well….filter through coffee filter (or similar)

(before using for the first time, coat a plate of glass with collodion and let sit in bath overnight, remove the next morning and silver bath is “seasoned” for use).


Developer For Positives–

100 ml. distilled water

4 grams ferrous sulfate

6 ml. glacial acetic acid

4 ml. grain alcohol

Sugar Developer (To be honest I'm not sure what this is for, perhaps an alternative recipe?)

750 ml. distilled water

26 grams ferrous sulfate

25 ml. glacial acetic acid

20 ml. grain alcohol

½ cup of white sugar

Mix together in the order shown.

Filter through standard coffee filter into “screw-top” bottle…

I filter three separate times.


Potassium Cyanide Fixer –

5 grams of potassium cyanide

450 ml. of distilled water

Potassium Cyanide is a DEADLY POISON

Mix and store in an airtight PLASTIC container that is well labeled and out of reach of children.

Do not allow KCn (Pot. Cya.) to come in contact with any acids…will create deadly cyanide gas.

Always wear rubber gloves when working with KCn and do not keep food or drink in the area as you work with it.

“Hypo” Fixer –

100 grams sodium thiosulfate

500 ml. distilled water

Dissolve sodium thiosulfate crystals completely in water.

An optional mixture known as "Trick of the Trade" allows you to add more contrast to plates after you've fixed them in cases of overexposure.

“Trick Of The Trade”

(Reducer for overexposed/overdeveloped plates)

1 gram Potassium Ferracyanide

150 ml distilled water

150 ml Hypo fixer

Mix well…flow quickly over plate and wash off within a second or two.

Continue flowing/rinsing until desired “reduction” is achieved…

It is easy to go too far, so be careful not to burn through image.

Only stays good for about 1 hour after mixing.

These should get you images, but now you need to protect them with a varnish. I've heard you can use a regular varnish bought from a hardware store but if I'm wrong someone please correct me.

Plate Varnish-

Sandarac Plate Varnish –

220 ml 190 proof Grain Alcohol

(you can substitute denatured alcohol)

38 grams Gum Sandarac

22 ml Lavender Oil NF

2 ml distilled water

Add the sandarac to the alcohol in a mason jar (or similar).

Cap securely and periodically shake vigorously on and off over the course of a few days until the gum sandarac has all dissolved (leaving only the bits of bark, dirt, and bugs).

Add the lavender oil and water and mix.

Let the capped jar sit for several days to “settle out”.

Finally decant (draw from the top) the cleared varnish, using a lab pipette, an eye dropper, or a small “baster”, and filter it (using a standard coffee filter) into a separate stoppered bottle

Again, all actual recipe content and instructions are ripped shamelessly from my instructor's worksheets. Everything but my own little chime-ins are his and probably Coffer's by proxy.

Having said all of this, you can choose one of the two salted collodion routes, a developer, one of the two fixers (while the cyanide mixture is ideal for bright creamy positives the "hypo" recipe isn't a bad place to start) and a silver solution will get you an image. Once everything is properly rinsed, you varnish it and bing bong bing you've got a plate.

Now, for my own question to anyone who can answer. For all recipes that call for grain alcohol, I know that 190 proof Everclear works but all I can get is 151 proof which I've already read is no good. I know denatured alcohol works just about as well (as per Coffer's site) but I've heard if it is cut with too much methanol it doesn't work as well. I don't know the specifics. Coffer states that he uses "Sunnyside" brand denatured alcohol and I just wanted to know if anyone has used or heard of using "S-L-X Denature Alcohol" by "W.M. Barr Branded Sales" successfully as a substitute. That would be ideal since I and anyone else here can just go to Home Depot and buy it for practically nothing. I really appreciate any feedback and if anything in this post seems inaccurate feel free to let it be known! Thanks in advance.

Ty G
06-01-2010, 10:25 PM
That SLX stuff from Wal Mart works fine. Just get it out of the metal can after opening; put it in plastic or glass, the metal will sometimes form rust after the container is opened. You are correct that the 151 will not work. Actually if you are good in chemistry, you could make it work, as it contains too much water and that would need to be distilled out or appropriate amount of ether added to "even" it out.

06-18-2010, 02:21 PM
I recommend a beginner find a system that is known to work together - Collodion, Developer, Silver Bath solution, Fixer, and NOT just "mix and match" from all the recipes found surfing the net. Some collodion mixes work better with some developers, for example. The above recipe capture from many sources is not that useful if you don't know what's going on. The "sugar developer" for example is actually just a regular acetic acid developer formula, with some sugar added as a restrainer, as it can be to most formulas. Yet, the web perpetuates these errors because people copy/paste information - right, wrong, or incompatible, and imply a newbie should just "dive in." There is a lot of background information missing in this one page "guide."

Best is to get a guidebook, or take a workshop, or follow a forum for a few weeks. Worse is to dive in with little understanding of the process and interactions. I am closely involved with the wetplate community, and many beginning problems can be prevented by acquiring more knowledge first.

06-18-2010, 03:13 PM
Are there certain cameras required for this or will any 4x5/large format do? Also do dry plates get the same 'type' of end result, or is it different altogether?

Jim Chinn
06-19-2010, 06:56 PM
Here is a great article/tutorial on getting started by Joe Smigiel at Unblinkingeye.


Then I would spend some time searching the archives on the wet plate forum here:


06-23-2010, 12:25 AM
Are there certain cameras required for this or will any 4x5/large format do? Also do dry plates get the same 'type' of end result, or is it different altogether?

Most large format cameras will work. There are some issues though.

1. Be prepared for the havoc that dripping chemistry will wreak on your camera (and plate holders, your shoes, etc.)
2. Most modern lenses are a little slow and, for the most part, too sharp. Try getting your hands on an old Petzval or something similar (you won't need a shutter, that's what the lens cap is for)
3. Not all 4x5 plate holders are the standard size, you may need perform surgery on a standard film holder to get something that fits.
4. Some of the recipes call for the use of ether which is highly flammable and is sometimes used for nefarious purposes. Some suppliers may require you to fill out some paperwork that goes to the DEA if you are a US resident.
5. Dry plates have a different look and feel. They're wonderful, but very different.


07-04-2010, 12:26 AM
I've just completed a workshop this morning with Christopher James at Santa Fe Workshops which probably qualifies me as the newest beginner in this discussion. We used Bostick and Sullivan chemistry, which worked great. An interesting thing for me was the variety of cameras we used for wet plate. They included a ful plate view camera, a Brownie 3A and a Holga, each of which produced nice results. It is an intersting process and also one that was fun. Wonder how long my hands will be black? Bill Barber

07-04-2010, 01:58 AM

Welcome to the club! In Re Black hands...as long as you want them to be.

The chemical companies that sell chems for all purposes will usually have you fill out paperwork to identify yourself as a photographer (US). My understanding is other countries have similar laws/guidance. Very good recommendation is before you start buying chems, READ the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on the chems you are bringing into your workshop/house. Within collodion there are chems that IF handled poorly are known carcinogens, things that can go BOOM, PFFT, Poof, or death. Granted driving to work can be just as dangerous depending on where you live. Also, follow the recommendations for a workshop, forums and/or local resources (like a photographer doing this type of work). A workshop helps to clear up the mystique surrounding this art and shows steps visually which you should have read through the forums available. It is an incredible process and I love it but it is similar to motorcycle riding, dont lose focus. Collodion is very similar to any other art, like woodworking. IF you follow the appropriate safety procedures you will be more than fine, like never waving your hands over a running table saw or in collodion mislabeling KCN and inadvertently mixing it w/ an acid. Both result in a bad day.

Read the MSDS, join the forums, take a workshop, HAVE FUN!


nick mulder
07-04-2010, 03:06 AM
Yes they do.

But only to countries that allow Fedex Hazmat ...

07-08-2010, 09:01 AM
When it comes to hardware, especially lenses, you can use anything. Someone above said "most modern lenses are too slow." Not true. I've used Velostigmats, Protars, Dagors, Tessars, as well as the older Petzvals and Rapid Rectilinears that were used from the 1860 until 1900. A typical RR is F8, and many magic lantern petzvals are around F9. They work fine. Why would an F4.5 Tessar not work? It does.

08-04-2010, 08:58 PM
I have slowly putting the pieces together for a whole plate camera fir the last several months. Currently, I have just about everything minus the chemicals. I could have the shipped here by BS but due to the hazardous materials fees shipping becomes expensive really fast.

I read about John Coffers Poe boy formula that omits the ether. Locally I found 198 proof ethanol, which looks like it would work. I have found everything else, but before I order that ethanol wanted to make sure it would work!

Any input would be great!


(pardon my typos doing this mobile on a rather rocking train)

eddie gunks
08-22-2010, 07:23 AM
yes it should work. you MAY need to add a bit of water as i think grain alcohol is like 190 proof. you do need a bit of water.

it is "poor boy" collodion BTW

I have slowly putting the pieces together for a whole plate camera fir the last several months. Currently, I have just about everything minus the chemicals. I could have the shipped here by BS but due to the hazardous materials fees shipping becomes expensive really fast.

I read about John Coffers Poe boy formula that omits the ether. Locally I found 198 proof ethanol, which looks like it would work. I have found everything else, but before I order that ethanol wanted to make sure it would work!

Any input would be great!


(pardon my typos doing this mobile on a rather rocking train)