Glassine envelopes - better or worse than nothing?
So a retired professional gave me a whole pile of envelopes that look like they're made of wax paper - kinda. I think that this stuff is called "Glassine"?
Anyway, I wonder if these are better than nothing ? or are they worse?
That is, I realize they're not the best practice but, right now, I just store my LF negatives in the original film boxes - nothing more. Would using the glassine be better or worse? How?
I use glassines for my 4x5 negs, and for my 645 negs. I like them, but they don't work so well when making contact prints, since you have to remove the negs from the sleeves. But, that's a small issue. I'm not a fan of the poly sheets, since I've had negs stick to the poly. No damage was done, but it's a bit disconcerting when you're trying to get a neg out, and you really have to tug on it to get it out....
If it's any consolation, I know of two photographers who, between them, have probably close to 50-60,000 negatives stored in glassines.....
Glassine is a long-established product, and, like paper, is available in acid-free grades for high-quality conservation work.
I can't see any problem, particularly as one would expect a retired professional to have bought the correct product for photo purposes.
I use glassine envelopes. They protect the negs and it's easy to get negs in and out of the envelopes. It is generally considered good practice to put the negatives in with the emulsion side facing away from the seams.
To standardize storage somewhat, I use medium format sized sleeves for medium format and 35mm negs, and I use 4x5" for 4x5" and 2x3" sheet film. Larger than that, I generally use the size that fits the format but I haven't settled yet on a solution for 7x17".
I don't particularly like the plastic sheets, and I don't like proofs made with the negatives in the sheets, because they aren't sharp.
This might be worth a read. The PAT test seems to be the golden rule.
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Edward Weston's negatives were stored in glassine until they were moved to Tucson. They have not suffered, or at least they had not when I saw some at Coles about 15 years ago.
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i worked for a portrait photographer who had negatives from the 30s and 40s in glassine.
i was there in 88-89, and the glassine still looked like new.
i have tons of prints and negatives in glassine, and stored in archival shoeboxes ( or film boxes ).
the film boxes were purchased from kodak ( with unexposed film in them ) the shoeboxes
were purchased from gaylord brothers they are an archival supplier for libraries, archives and museums.
Guess I better run and remove the old negs from the glassine envelopes from my father!
Originally Posted by bobwysiwyg
" Glassine enclosures are not recommended. Glassine paper is made with short, brittle wood pulp fibers, which are prone to rapid decay. Often in the pulp are additives which increase the flexibility and translucency of the paper. Therefore, glassine has three sources of potential harm to photographs: possible impurities from wood pulp, possible harmful additions, and deteriorating paper fiber."
Obviously another case of an expert expounding without looking at the empirical evidence.
While my preference is for the now-discontinued Kodak Mylar sleeves, I have negatives in various formats that have been stored in glassine envelopes since the 1960s, and many of them spent most of that time in the attic of a barn in Alabama. I have yet to notice any effects attributable to the glassine stock, which came from a variety of sources and was purchased "over the counter" with no brand name associated.
(Some of the envelopes have gone from near-white to almost coffee brown, but the negatives seem to be fine.)
A few negatives stored in ordinary office-type envelopes suffered from mold, mildew, and insect damage, and the rest were apparently thrown away, so it would appear that the answer to the original question is: yes, glassine envelopes are much, much better than nothing!
(And the worst is probably low-grade, heavily plasticized polyvinyl chloride, which can sort of dissolve both negatives and prints....)
I used glassine sleeves and envelopes to store negatives back when that was the only material available, and I still use them from time to time. I have 50 year old negative that have held up fine (and some 40 year old color negatives that are still printable) while stored in glassine. Some of my negative have deteriorated, but I can't blame the glassine - my poor methods many years ago are a more likely reason. Glassine is probably the least of my worries about negative storage.