I'm seriously thinking about doing more of my printing on fiber paper rather than the RC that I've been using. I'm not sure if it is due to the influence of this group or from the numerous books I've been reading. Nevertheless, I have a very small darkroom and am looking for some ideas since my sink is the limiting factor. Most of my printing will be 8x10 with some 11x14 once in awhile. I do most all of my printing for my own enjoyment, and for the most part I give them away, so I don't need professional solutions (i.e. I need to do this fairly inexpensively). Note: I really don't want this thread to become a fiber vs. RC discussion. There are several already ongoing. Thanks.
I'm already thinking that I'm going to find or make some sort of tray ladder due to my constraints. Another thing that seems to make a lot of sense for fiber is a print washer. Not only will it take up less space than my 11x14 premier model, but it would keep the fiber prints seperated. I'll attach a photo so you can see what I'm trying to describe.
Currently I have room for (1) developer tray (all 8x10's), (1) stop, (1) fix, and then the 11x14 washer.
Am I correct that with fiber I'll need (1) developer, (1) stop, (2) fix, (1) hypo, and then the washer? I understand that there could be other options for split developing etc. etc.
The other part of this that I'm a little unsure of is the drying. From what I've read, I think that using screens to lay the prints out on sounds like a good option for me. I can easily make some sliding screens to fit a few prints as they dry. Any tips here?
Please feel free to comment, make suggestions, etc. etc. as you will. Much of this darkroom was built with suggestions and support from this group. Thanks in advance.
David, your darkroom reminds me of my first, I hope you have as much fun in yours as I did in mine.
I think your decision to use fibre is a good one and I'm sure that you'll notice an improvement in your prints. I think you have thought through your problems regarding space very well and realise that you need to construct a tray stacking system to accomodate the number you will require.
Hypo eliminator is useful if you have room but it is by no means essential, it does mean that you will have to wash the fibre prints longer. Perhaps the answer is to have a stacking system were the stop, fix and hypo eliminator are slotted iin a stack of 3 at one end of your wet bench leaving enough room for two developer trays. I suggest this because as you work with fibre paper and your printing techniques improve you will start to think of two bath development and water bath development. In extreme situations I have used a three bath system of two developers and one water bath so if you can it makes sense to provide for that now.
You mentioned that you could fit some sliding screen for drying which would be perfect, I've used that system for years. All you need do to make them is to stretch some 1/2" or smaller nylon mesh across a frame of your chosen size and fit the screens on to drawer runners. To dry fibre prints squeegee all surplus moisture from both back and front using a car windscreen wiper, new preferably, and lay the print face down on the mesh in normal room temperature and they will dry overnight. Don't try to speed up the process by heating the room this will induce curl in the print, in fact the slower they are dried the better.
we use ladder trays in our gang darkroom. they can be found at Porter's. Altho, i think they are a bit pricey for pieces of metal.
The only difference between printing fiber and Rc is time. The exposure will be different (usually) , the development time will increase, stop as usually and then you can fix one of two ways. two bath fixer or use Ilords archival recommendation (check their website; it is still up and running.) wash, hypo clear and then wash again.
You might consider soaking and dumping as a washing option rather than an archival washer, or a try shipon depending on how many prints you are washing at a time.
Screens work well, can be purchased at the local hardware store;be sure you get fiberglass screening. You might be able to build a drying rack under your sink, i can't tell with the thumnail. just build so you can slide the screens in with an inch or so between screens. Or, you can take screens and stack them, however, you must leave some room between each screen or you will have a mess on your hands. Has to have some air to circulate. At one time we took pre-made screens and stacked them on top of each other with a 1 x 1 on each long side between each screen. cheap and worked fine.
after they ae dry, put them under some heavy books, have fun.
Good Afternoon, David,
Sounds as if you headed the right direction. Drying is not something which must be done in the darkroom; in fact, is probably better to do it elsewhere, especially if air circulation in your darkroom is limited. Almost any kind of screen or rack which doesn't absorb liquids should work fine. With FB, a dry-mount press is highly desirable (but not essential) for good print flattening after drying. To me, the biggest negative aspect of FB printing is planning to do enough prints at once to get the least wasteful use of water during the lengthy washing time. Even with hypo clear, I tend to wash for an hour or more--just to be sure!
Your process is corect.
I'd reccomend staggering the trays to make more space.
Sometimes is better to have a 2 fix bath instead of the hypo-clearing.
Also you have to think about toning (maybe after pics are done)
In order to get acquainted with FB paper, I'd buy a 25sheet pack and get a "feel" of the processing and how it feels.
Mama took my APX away.....
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I read on someone's website (it may have been a link from Paul Butzi's...I just don't remember) a long exposition about simply hanging fiber prints by a corner with a clothes pin; it facilitated relatively curl free drying. I've been all over the place avoiding assigning dedicated space to drying (racks) so I gave that method a try and it has worked quite well so far...both 8x10 and 11x14. The obvious drawback is the pin tooth impression made on the corner of the paper, but since I cut off the white margin around the print when drymounting anyway, it hasn't been a problem. It's worth trying since I see you have the pins on the edge of your shelves already. Good luck!
OBTW, nice and efficient looking use of obviously very limited space.
I don't know why you've not mentioned processing with one tray. I and at least a
few others do use a one tray method.
There are two varieties of one tray processing; multi-use chemistry and one-shot.
With multi-use the chemistry is returned to a container after each step of the
process. With one-shot the chemistry is discarded after each step of the
If there is more than one print a second tray is needed for washing. Diffuse wash using hydorphobic seperators.
After the second fix, rinse, hca, and rinse. The print is then ready to wash.
I've calibrated the amounts of chemistry needed so that there is no waste.
I process one shot and think it a gas. Always fresh chemistry. Dan
Doesn't using Hypo (Perma Wash) cut down on the washing time? That was the only reason I was considering it. That was the same reasoning behind the print washer, so one print wouldn't contaminate another thus causing longer wash times. (Les's book is one of the ones I'm reading by the way! Amazing stuff.)
Yes, I've thought about toning etc., and I'll probably have to do that later, either outside the darkroom or inside depending on the fumes!
If it were me, I would just span the sink above your wash tray with a board. Put the 11x14 dev and stop trays horizontally in the sink where the three 8x10 trays now are in your picture and the fix tray up on the board. As the prints finish fixing you can easily slide them into your washer or holding bath in the sink below until you have finished printing.
If you want to do a second fix and/or hypo eliminator or anything else, just wait until the end of the session and after you dump your dev and stop, do the remaining steps in the resulting open sink space. Put the board on hinges or make it easily removable so that you have full access to the sink when it isn't needed.
I've been hanging my FB prints by the corner. After they're dry they require some additional flattening under pressure, preferably with heat, to get them as flat as a sheet of RC.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
The best way to dry fibre, from what I have see, tried is two prints hung back to back on a line using pegs at each corner. They seem to dry rather flater than normal this way.
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