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  1. #1

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    How to get precise borders while sensitizing a paper by hand

    At a first glance, with alternative printing one of the nicest and unusal things to do is to have some irregular handbrushed borders all around the print. It's easy, fun, creative, sometimes helpful... I personally enjoy much those brush strokes, because they remind me that there was nothing on the paper until my hand put something on it.

    But what if one wants perfect borders, just like in a regular, fine-tuned enlarged print?

    A friend of mine asked for a print (a cyanotype) but he doesn't want any trace of brushing on it...

    I'm trying everything. I first masked the borders with a thin black cardboard paper, but it didn't work well at the edges.
    The sandwich was: sensitized paper-->negative-->thin black cardboard-->glass... This combination produced some fogging at the edges. While I'm posting this message I realized that I didn't try the other possible combination (paper-->thin black cardboard-->negative...)... But I'm not very convinced of this solution because in any case it increases the thickness of the sandwich which might reduce the adherence of the negative to the sensitized layer and thus the sharpness of the final print.

    As an alternative, I tried masking the print before it was coated with a magic tape (the one from 3M you can remove without damaging the surface where it's sticked). I sticked the tape and then brushed the sensitizer. Then I dried the sensitized print, removed the tape and exposed it. It worked much better, but some of the sensitizer slipped under the tape... I tried again pressing the tape, but there's always a chance that sensitizer spills... You cannot really throw away a lot of prints hoping it doesn't do that.

    Anyone has a better idea?

    Someone elsewhere suggested to use a coating rod. But I nerver used a coating rod and neither have one... On the other hand I thought that rod-sensitizing was preferred to achieve an even coating, and not fine-borders...

  2. #2
    scootermm's Avatar
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    coat the paper as usual.
    buy some rubylith film and cut out the size you wish unmasked area to be. say if its an 8x10 negative the opening might be 7-3/4" x 9-3/4" then center it all together.... Glass>rubylith mask>negative>coated paper.

    hope that helps.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by scootermm
    coat the paper as usual.
    buy some rubylith film and cut out the size you wish unmasked area to be. say if its an 8x10 negative the opening might be 7-3/4" x 9-3/4" then center it all together.... Glass>rubylith mask>negative>coated paper.

    hope that helps.

    thanks!!! Never heard of rubylith before... I just hope I will find some...

    bye

    ps - does fingerprints damage or reduce the efficiency of the rubylith sheet? does it require the same care as for negatives?

  4. #4

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    Matt is correct, but you can also use the blue painters tape (or any other tape that will not stick to the paper) just make sure it is wide enough. Also any opaque material that can be cut to mask the coated paper. Like Matt indicated, the sequence is glass>then mask>then negative>then coated paper in the contact print frame.
    Mike C

    Rambles

  5. #5
    jp80874's Avatar
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    You can buy rubylith in sheets at some graphics art supply houses.

    John Powers

  6. #6

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    I cut up a black plastic photo-paper bag. It works fine for masking. There's no fogging from light coming through the plastic, but of course, the cyanotype may or may not clear fully.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by scootermm
    buy some rubylith film and cut out the size you wish unmasked area to be.
    I use Goldenrod paper which is used in the printing industry for masking out areas. It's also available as a vinyl sheet, although the paper is cheaper and comes ruled or unruled.
    I buy mine through Photo Warehouse. http://www.ultrafineonline.com/ulmash.html
    Keith.
    Keith Taylor
    Platinum, Photogravure and Historic Process Editions
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    2011 Minnesota Center for Book Arts/Jerome Foundation Mentorship Program recipient

  8. #8
    scootermm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Taylor
    I use Goldenrod paper which is used in the printing industry for masking out areas. It's also available as a vinyl sheet, although the paper is cheaper and comes ruled or unruled.
    I buy mine through Photo Warehouse. http://www.ultrafineonline.com/ulmash.html
    Keith.

    thanks for the link keith. I might try some of that out.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Taylor
    I use Goldenrod paper which is used in the printing industry for masking out areas. It's also available as a vinyl sheet, although the paper is cheaper and comes ruled or unruled.
    I buy mine through Photo Warehouse. http://www.ultrafineonline.com/ulmash.html
    Keith.
    I found that Goldenrod was not completely opaque to UV for pt/pd printing. During very long exposures (don't remember exactly, but ~20 minutes in a 40 watt BL box) I would get slight density appearing in the masked borders. Using a double thickness of Goldenrod eliminated it. Most of my negs print much shorter (3 to 8 minutes), so it was rarely an issue. These days I mask the area to be coated using either brown painter's tape for smooth, hard papers or Scotch® Safe-Release Masking Tape 2070 for softer papers or papers with some texture. This is the white tape, not the blue stuff. It's pricey, but will not pull up fibers on the paper surface.
    Kerik Kouklis
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  10. #10

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    Thanks Kerik, could not remember the Scotch 2070 tape remember either it was mentioned before. Have had the same problem you mentioned with slight density appearing in the masked border after long exposures with rubylith tape.
    Mike C

    Rambles

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