I am curious as to what kind of soap you are using.
When I first started carbon-transfer, I did try some of the older glop formulae with "Castille soap". I went so far as to start making my own with olive oil and lye... and soon realized that I was making things difficult for myself. I am not about to start grinding coal to make pigment, but have been tinkering with some unusual items.. soya sauce being one
I generally use soap flakes that are intended for washing clothes; the ones I get seem to be pretty much pure soap. I do make my own soap too; for printing the best results were from soap made with very little (if any) excess fats, which is not ideal for washing hands with! Castille soap should work well though if the pigments are 'soap friendly'. I am not sure exactly what chemical processes are important in the glop making, but I suspect it could be the shapes of the particles or more likely that it is the oils or tars in the soot that react with the soap to create some rather nice properties. A soap based formula with ground charcoal is hideous and foams like crazy with endless bubbles (which is what also happens with watercolour paint and soap glop); the shapes of the ground particles are very different, but also there is no oil as there is with soot.
With the soot and soap recipe, I am pouring bubble free 'liquid silk' to make tissues within 1/2 hour of starting to soak my gelatine (20min soak, 10min to add pigment and filter). Without the soap, I use isoprop. alcohol to aid bubble dispersal and let it sit for some time (usually and hour or two) to de-gas. With the soap free glop I tend to get oily streaks on the surface and the soot particles tend to clump more and I get rougher and more uneven tissue. I have made tissues using ground coffee and the behaviour was very similar to the soap/non-soap recipes as I see with soot, again leading me to suspect it is an interaction of the soap and the oils. I think that if you have a risk of oil contamination of the pigment, a soap glop is worth a try; if it works, it is great, but if it does not, it is a disaster, so try a small 100ml batch test. I also found that using detergents rather than soap caused foaming and bubble issues that I do not see with real soap, however the pigment dispersion was much improved over the isoprop. glop.
My typical recipe is: 750ml water, 100g food-grade gelatine, 80g sugar, 10g soap, 30g soot. I pour 50ml of glop for an 8"x10" area. I tend to go for higher contrast tissues (low relief) as I print onto sized watercolour paper and struggle to get relief even with thick tissues. The higher-contrast thinner tissues also mean my negatives do not have to be so dense (I still end up with a 1% dichromate solution often though). If I am not using soap, I replace the soap with about the same weight of isoprop. alcohol.
Starting out I would use one of the already proven inks or watercolor in tubes.
With carbon printing it is extremely important to limit your variables to ensure some kind of repeatable results.
If you have any interest in varying your picture "temperature" (i.e. cold, medium, warm depending on the content of the image), I would definitely start (and stick with) watercolors. The pigments have been specifically developed and processed to dissolve consistently in water ... and, you have a product-wide line of different colors that have been developed by the same company for mixing. Unlike inks, the compatible choices are myriad and they are readily available at art stores everywhere.
Thanks Jim, that is what I figured. What percentage of pigment do you use?
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
In his recent (beautiful) book of monochrome carbon prints made of mountains in Belgium, Germany, France and Wales, Dutch photographer Witho Worms writes:
"Took a bit of coal from every mountain I photographed…ground this coal into a pigment …to make a (carbon) print of a mountain with the coal originating from that mountain. In other words, the object of the photo, the mountain, has become one with the subject of the photo, the print itself."
Very cool stuff.
Cette Montagne C'est Moi
FW: Books (2012)
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Love it. Reminds me of the old practice of making portraits of the deceased from their ashes in the form of a carbon print. Slightly macabre, but actually a beautiful idea in my opinion.
Originally Posted by CMB
If you are the big tree, we are the small axe
In the same theme as using coal from the mountains.. I added soya-sauce to my carbon 'glop' for this print of "Mr. Tse" (owner of a favourite take-out establishment)
Of course a bit of Uncle Earl will go down the drain during the development of the carbon print (the unexposed portion of the carbon tissue)...
Originally Posted by holmburgers
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
Photographers' Formulary supplies (or supplied) carbon black that was suitable for tissue making. Most pigments do not come ground fine enough for carbon tissue. Has any one tried an surfactants other than soap to aid dispersion?
An anionic surfactant, such as Kodak's Photo-Flo, is probably your best bet.