Has anyone else here tried Gumoil?
I recently got Karl Koenig's book "Gumoil Photographic Printing". I have never seen an actual Gumoil print, only Karl's work online.
I am at the early stages of trying to learn the process and, so far, it has kicked my butt.
For those not familar with the process, the short description is:
1) Coat paper with a solution of gum arabic and potassium dichromate (like gum dichromate print but without the pigment). Let dry. Coat it again. Let dry.
2) Contact print a positive to the paper under a UV light.
3) "Develope" in plain water until gum mix is removed from shadow areas. Let dry.
4) Apply first coat of oil paint (in my case Lamp Black).Let soak in.
5) Take paper towels and rags and rub and rub and rub and etc. If you have done everything right so far, you now have an unusual looking high contrast print. Let dry.
6) Etch some of the remaing hardend gum in a household bleach and water solution. Them wash print removing alot of the surface oil paint and more of the gum. Let dry.
7) Apply a coat of another color of oil paint and yada yada yada.
OK - the gist of this is, this is a labor intensive process. When done right, it can produce unique prints of stark beauty. See some of Karl's work at http://www.gumoil.com/
So far, I am not getting squat.
My first two attempts I single coated the paper and things looked good until I etched them. Too much image disappeared and the second application of paint (Payne's Gray as recommend in the book) left me with a black rectangle that no amount of rubbing improved.
My second two prints I 1) double coated the gum mix. 2) Increased the print time (same for both) and 3) Decreased the etch time (less etching for 4 than 3). #3 was again a black rectangle. #4 I changed the paint to Burnt Umber. After removing as much paint as I was able, I can see the first black image through an undifferentiated layer of brown.
I am just not getting this to work beyond the first application of paint. I realize that this is hardly an intensive exploration of the process. It is, however, enough to be frustrating.
Has anyone here had any sucess with this process? Karl's book is a mite thin on specifics. I could use some clues from someone who has suceeded with this. I will post specific questions to anyone who can help.
Enumclaw WA USA
I made several attempts... with the same results as you . I followed the description which is on www.alternativephotography.com. I thought I failed to produce something at least very remotely similar to Karl's beautiful prints because I didn't have the book and didn't read about all the details and tricks (which I expect a book should mention).
So I returned back to gum bichromate process.
I have the book and I agree that the book doesn't really give enough info, but I've not tried the process yet.
Originally Posted by DarkroomDan
Did you contact Karl?
You might try asking your question on the alt process mail list. I've been on the list for years and years and do no recall the process being discussed much. I think Koenig used to post there. You might look in the list early archives.
Thanks for the reply. I am not ready to give up yet but it is tempting. I have tried a lot of processes and have never run into a series of complete failures like this. I didn't expect to turn out good prints in short order but did expect I would be able to make recognizable bad prints.
My next attempts I plan to try printing much harder and further reducing the strength and time in the bleach etch. I will also try a more gentle wash after the bleach. with the first coating of paint I can see that the paint is getting into the paper in the cleared spots and riding on the gum in the other areas. So far, after bleaching, though I can see gum on the paper, it does not protect the paper. My guess is that for reasons to be determined, I do not have enough gum left. I have rebleached some of my black rectangles to see if, as after the first application, paint would wash off - it does not.
If I get anywhere with this, I will post my results and attach a print.
Thanks for the suggestion. I do read the alt-photo list and don't recall ever seeing a gumoil thread. I will search the archives, I had forgotten about them.
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I tried Gumoil a few years ago with partial success. What I did to get an image was the following:
Make a mixture of gum arabic and potassium bichromate in the relationship 3:1.
Single coat a Fabriano paper (I don't recall which) with this and then expose.
Add black oil paint and let it sit for approx 15 minutes before wiping it off.
I then let the image dry for a few days before I bleached it (I seem to recall 10% bleach and 1 minute) and added paynes grey.
I believe that the main thing was to get the gum arabic/bichromate ratio right.
Hope this helps
Thanks for all the replies. There are a lot of good options out there, very reasonably priced.
I think I'm leaning towards a couple of MyWeigh scales. One that comes with a breeze cover and an accuracy of 0.005 grams (100 gm max) for small quantities and a triple beam scale for weighing large quantities.
Has anyone tested linearity on these inexpensive balances that weigh very small quantities, like with a set of weights to see if combinations of weights weigh the same as the sum of their individual weights?
Thanks for the reply. Most everything you did is thae same as I. but I have not had any success. I plan to try again this weekend.
I use the same gum to sensitizer ratio - this is what Karl recommends. My double coat was slightly better than my single coat so I will stick with it. In my edition of the book, Karl recommends 1:6 water:bleach in hi "Further Notes". That is what I used. Your time between the first bleach and the second application of paint is significantly longer than I allowed. I will give this a try. Also, your bleach time is less than I used - this I think may be critical.
What I believe is happening is that I am not maintaining a sufficient layer of gum after the first bleach. My intention now is to continue double coating and to increase the amount of hardened gum by increasing my exposure - I may also vary my negative density range. I will decrease the strength and time of my bleach.
I will try these variables of several prints so that if I get improvements, I have an idea what caused them.
I know that the process works. Karl has produced some incredible prints. I don't think he is withholding details, I think the process is subject to so many variables that the printer needs experience to judge and react.
As I said in an earlier post, if I get anywhere, I will post my results here.
Enumclaw WA USA
during the last week I started too working around this process. I bought Mr. Koenig's book... But I'm a little bit disappointed because despite its high cost (50$) it's a little superficial and little technical in some important parts such as printing troubleshooting for example.
Anyway, the tecnique in itself is very interesting, as it's somewhat in between oilprints and gum bichromate. I tried gum bichromates last year without any success. Then I got hooked by bromoils (also colored ones) and forgot about gum bichromates.
Now I really want to make to make at least one successfull gumoil print.
I tried the following:
1) Got a 5% potassium bichromate solution, mixed 1:3 with gum arabic.
2) Double coated with a brush some sheets of Fabriano watercolor paper (of course papers where dried before second coating)
3) Exposed several test strips with a positive and a self made 300W UV BL printing box. I tried different exposure times, ranging from 1' to 20'. Normally with my box a cyanotype takes 20' to expose, for comparison. Potassium dichromate should be much faster.
4) "Developed" the prints carefully in ambient temperature water. I tried from 2' to 10' development time in water. Probably a good time is 2' to 3', if I overwash the prints too much of the gum goes away. I too little as just as 1' there are residuals on the paper.
5) Let dry the paper(s)
6) When bone dry, I worked in some oil paint (windsor & newton lamp black) with a finger (tried also with a sponge, finger works best).
7) After 15' I rub the prints removing the excess oil paint with a lot of toilet paper and much strenght.
The result is awful. The images, whatever the exposure time was, have just a little bit of shadows (deepest black areas) and no midtones. There's no way to achieve a midtone, a grey tone or whatever. The image itself is very very rough... I don't expect that such prints have to be detailed... but mine are too far away even for a gum bichromate / gumoil standard.
So far I'm pointing my finger at the gum. Perhaps it is too thin for the process. In his book Koenig writes that a too weak arabic gum can produce too thin prints. And then he suggest to add some harder and more viscous powdered gum. But then he says that double coating can overcome the problem in the same way...
I can't find powdered arabic gum at the moment. But I have some gelatin here. Should I try using gelatin instead of arabic gum? If nobody else is using gelatin for gum bichromate or gumoils there must be a reason, though...
Anyone else has some suggestion?
I'm just learning how to do this as well and I succeeded in doing a horrid but recognizable print. I've been doing pretty much what everyone else has and getting pretty much the same result. I tried using some Aquarello 230gsm CP rough and didn't like what I saw and found Lanaquarelle 140lbs CP to be more promising. I think my problem is the negatives or not enough gum.
Wish I could help but I'm still fumbling along.