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  1. #1
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Smoother paper for cyanotype?

    I've been making cyanotypes (Formulary's "Traditional Cyanotype" kit) on the cheapest fiber-reinforced watercolor paper I could find in a suitable size for low waste -- my budget won't stand paying a couple dollars a sheet for the paper to support this very economical process. Overall I've been pleased (though I've noted that the latest prints, after 10 months away, have a problem with the pigment washing off during development, which I'm working on), but when making small prints (my current largest format is 9x12 cm), I find the details from the negatives are obscured by the rather large, aggressive cold press texture of the paper.

    What I'd like is to find a non-alkaline, fiber reinforced watercolor paper with a smoother surface, perhaps along the lines of sketch paper or even laser printer stock, that's within my budget. Non-alkaline, because alkaline conditions cause permanent fading of cyanotype. Fiber reinforced so I won't wind up with a mass of wrinkles after developing and drying the print (even if I can sensitize it and keep it flat enough to go into the printing frame). And if I can't afford it, it's no good to me.

    Any suggestions? Ideally, it should also be a brand that won't require purchase from a big-city art supply store, since I live in a community of about a quarter million people over a 35 mile area, and the nearest larger cities are an hour's drive (twelve dollars worth of gasoline, near enough, for the round trip -- very limited opportunities at this time).

    Alternately, a method of drying cyanotypes made on non-reinforced papers would let me use the hot-pressed papers I've seen (which aren't reinforced, apparently intended to be mounted before painting, as we did when I was in high school), or even sketch papers and similar non-watercolor stocks...
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  2. #2
    donbga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Qualls

    What I'd like is to find a non-alkaline, fiber reinforced watercolor paper with a smoother surface, ..
    Arches Platine! About $4.70 per sheet at Daniel Smith. You will love it.

    Don Bryant

  3. #3
    Jeremy's Avatar
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    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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  4. #4
    Ole
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    Canson sketch pad. Costs about $20 for a 100 sheet block, use the back side of the paper for cyanotype and van Dyke. The front is too "hard".
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  5. #5
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Okay, the Canson sketch pad is close to my budget range (nice if it came in small increments, but I can live with $20). I've never found a local source for Platine (even in Seattle, when I lived there), and I don't want to pay that kind of money in any case (though I presume those are pretty large sheets); certainly not without examining the paper! Yes, I know, everyone says it works well for almost all alt processes -- but it doesn't fit my budget at all well; for that kind of money I could buy foam-core, which will stay nice and flat and has an almost-glossy surface.

    Ole, is the Canson fiber reinforced, or otherwise treated so it dries reasonably flat after getting wet? Or am I worrying too much about that (envisioning the mess that results if ordinary notebook or writing paper gets wet)?
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  6. #6
    Ole
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Qualls
    Ole, is the Canson fiber reinforced, or otherwise treated so it dries reasonably flat after getting wet? Or am I worrying too much about that (envisioning the mess that results if ordinary notebook or writing paper gets wet)?
    Donald, I've had no problems with it at all, even when tea-toning for a couple of hours (OK, I fell asleep. Anyone would with a cat on his lap).

    I can send you a sample?
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  7. #7
    reellis67's Avatar
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    I know this thread is old, but I just got some stunning results from Strathmore Bristol paper the Formulary traditional cyanotype chemistry, double coated. This is a very smooth surfaced paper that produces great details and tonal range and holds up well to washing without getting rough afterwards. I have no idea what the pH is for certain, but I found one reference to it being around 6.x. I can send you an example print that I did the other day (4x5) and a few sheets if you want to try it out.

    - Randy

  8. #8
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    I've just found the Strathmore Bristol as well -- in fact, after buying a pad of it, I also found it listed as good for VDB and cyanotype in Jan Arnow's Handbook of Alternative Processes.
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  9. #9
    reellis67's Avatar
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    That's good to hear! I was concerned at first because I hadn't seen anyone else using it, but I really like the results and I didn't want to pay $40 for a block of Arches hot press. Thanks for the note - I'll have to give it a shot with VDB as well.

    - Randy

  10. #10
    Jim Noel's Avatar
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    Although it is not the only paper I use, I commonly print VDB, cyanotype, salt and platinum/palladium prints on 100%cotton stationery. It clears beautifully, and rather quickly.

    It is fragile, but if handled carefully does an excellent job. Usual cost is about $8 for a box of 50 sheets.
    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Films NOT Dead - Just getting fixed![/FONT]

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