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  1. #1

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    Handmade paper and silver emulsion

    I have recently started to use emulsion and instantly fell in love with the possibilities of using so many different surfaces. Canvas, tins, artistic paper... and I have decided to try hand made paper. First of course I have to make some paper, and here is where the problem begins. Hand made paper is very soft and when wet breaks easily. Does anyone know how to make it less absorbent and hence suitable to printing photographs on it... I was thinking a subbing of gelatin, but thought I ask First

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    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    Hard press, heavy weight papers are best for surviving the photographic process.

    PE

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polovy View Post
    ....Hand made paper is very soft and when wet breaks easily. Does anyone know how to make it less absorbent and hence suitable to printing photographs on it... I was thinking a subbing of gelatin, but thought I ask First
    The addition of AKD (alkyl ketene dimer) sizing to the wet stock, after beating and shortly before sheetforming greatly increases a paper's wet-strength. "Formation aid" may also help in producing a more rugged sheet if you are working with short fibres. Please note that fines/filler like calcium carbonate do not play nicely with AKD.

    A hardened gelatin subbing/sizing will yield a less absorbant paper, but only to a point; the paper itself must be quite rugged to begin with.
    - Ian

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polovy View Post
    I have recently started to use emulsion and instantly fell in love with the possibilities of using so many different surfaces. Canvas, tins, artistic paper... and I have decided to try hand made paper. First of course I have to make some paper, and here is where the problem begins. Hand made paper is very soft and when wet breaks easily. Does anyone know how to make it less absorbent and hence suitable to printing photographs on it... I was thinking a subbing of gelatin, but thought I ask First
    The softness of handmade paper that you describe is usually the result of not being very dense. Compression (hard pressing as noted by PE) will reduce the thickness, increase the density, and smooth the surface. This is all good and necessary to some degree but will not do anything to make it less absorbent. There are 2 issues -- enough water resistance to keep the emulsion from sinking into the paper and enough wet strength so that the paper survives the photo washing process. Subbing with gelatin is a good way to address the first issue. However, if the paper is not very water resistant to begin with the gelatin will soak in and you would need a lot of it. Internal sizing in the paper (AKD as noted by Hexavalent) is one example. As an aside, calcium carbonate can be used as a filler with AKD; it can be a problem in acid sized papers. Wet strength can be achieved by the addition of various chemicals. Gelatin can also be used internally though it takes a lot of it to get the same results as wet strength additives. Lastly, as noted by PE, the heavier and thicker the paper the better it will withstand the handmaking process -- both paper making and emulsion coating. There are quite a few websites that describe hand papermaking and there is at least one handmade paper mill in Indiana that conducts tours and I believe gives classes. Good luck.

  5. #5
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    I'm going to lift the basket off "papermaker"'s light. Kit Funderburk is the paper voice to heed -- a retired Kodak paper engineer and author of History of the Paper Mills at Kodak Park and A Guide to the Surface Characteristics, Kodak Fiber Based Black and White Papers. There are indeed a lot of websites devoted to handmade papermaking, but I've always wished the topic would get more traction here. The characteristics and requirements of paper for the various alt photo processes are many and diverse. It would be a substantive addition to the analog photo conversation. Hope you're interested, Kit!

  6. #6
    Hexavalent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papermaker View Post
    ....Internal sizing in the paper (AKD as noted by Hexavalent) is one example. As an aside, calcium carbonate can be used as a filler with AKD; it can be a problem in acid sized papers.
    I could have been a little more precise in my statement "plays nice with"

    AKD performs best in a neutral to slightly alkaline environment. The carbonate ion actually helps with the AKD-fiber bonding. What IS a bit tricky is getting calcium carbonate fillers to work in a manner that provides a sheet that "wets" evenly, and tolerates acidic stop bath and/or fixer (seeing bubbles under the emulsion halfway through processing is a heartbreaker).

    Get your hands wet and have some fun!
    - Ian

  7. #7

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    Look for the Penland school in N.C. --Helen Hiebert (the queen of papermaking) teamed up with an alt. process photographer to produce what you're describing! I would have loved to do the class two years ago. You can do Ms. Hiebert's course in Oregon, too.
    There's lots of resources out there. I think that a proper beater is key to binding fibres and making natural strength ( I believe that there is a valley beater for sale somewhere near you right now). As the others said, formation aid and sizing are imperative. This has been my project for a couple of years now....still learning...

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    Can find those in the George Eastman House On-line Library - full text

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    Dawn,

    Thank you for the heads-up on Helen Heibert! I had never heard of her, even though she's in my backyard. (I need to get out from under my darkcloth more .) I'll try to get in touch with her about paper for photo processes.

    d

  10. #10

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    She's great. I've never met her but sent her an email with questions. She responded right away! Please let me know what she says and if you are interested in going in on a course with her - let me know. I would like to take it with someone who has the same interest as me. I was thinking this summer but would commit if the cost went down a bit. Thanks.

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