I have been using foam brushes for over 24 years. I ran test against puddle pushers, hake brushes, "magic brushes" and none were nessacarily better than a foam brush. The foam brush must be fresh, not those with large cell structure typical of plastic handled foam brushes, and replaced often. That is especially true if you use ammonium based chemistry. If you are getting problem with your coating technique, you were not properly shown how to use it. It will not work on all papers but to dismiss them out right, shows a lack of broad coating techniques. How many coating can you expect to get out of a single brush? 5 to 10 prints. How many days? no more than 5. Of course, your milage may vary.
Originally Posted by buggy
Just another view.
This brush longevity remark reminds me of conversation I had the other day with a master printer who does bespoke platinum printing for a lot of big name photographers. He has a 4 inch Richeson that he has been using for 6 years. He estimates that it has made at least 15,000 prints so far and is still going strong. Not a bad deal when you calculate the cost per print!
Last edited by clay; 03-23-2006 at 08:07 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I'm sure I could make a Brillo pad work for coating, but there are some brushes that are so naturally suited for this task that to me it is illogical to fight using them.
I've probably made 750 or more coats with my 2" Richeson, and while it doesn't look new, it functions like new. It works vastly better then a rod for double coating, and much better than a hake or foam for any task that I've tried, and it uses much less solution than either of these brushes as well.
Everyone must choose their own path, and ultimately, nobody has to justify their own decisions to anyone but themselves, but for quality and consistancy, I find the Richeson brushes to be second to none, and fairly easy to master aas well.
Michael, Since a brillo pad, at least the ones that I have seen, are steel wool, that would be a grand feat! But yes, we all need to find our own tools that fit your work habits and style. THere are some papers that just won't allow for the use of a foam brush, for sure. Sometimes it is not a cost issue, but also one of contamination. If you only use it for a particular mix, a single brush is great, or even several mixes, but there can be times when a additional coating solution will be time consuming to remove from the brush. Simply grab a new one. Foam brushes can also get people in the door to alt printing where later they can fully invest in more appropriate tools of the trade.
Originally Posted by Michael Mutmansky
Eric- if someone is spending the $150 or so that it takes to get a starter kit of chemicals for Pt/Pd printing, and $50 for a package of COT 320, I don't think spending another $20 for a good brush is going to stop them from doing it. Getting lousy results because they cheaped out and used a foam brush may make them quit, however. Especially if the foam brush absorbs too much chemistry itself and they're making 50% fewer prints due to materials attrition. Just as I'd never tell someone who wants to learn about fstops and shutter speeds to START with a Holga, I wouldn't tell someone who wants to learn alt processes to start with a foam brush.
Originally Posted by EricNeilsen
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I'm curious about the metal ferrule used in a Richeson brush. I read somewhere that for alt processes one should avoid brushes with metal that might contaminate the print. For that reason I chose a good quality Japanese brush, which appears to be working well for me.
van Huyck Photo
"Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"
Your milage may vary! Because it is possible to get lousy prints withy a foam brush, don't teach it? I have made many thousands of prints using foam brushes and they are far from lousy. What is it that gets some of you so worked up about foam brushes? If I could not see a difference between the quality of prints that I made with a foam brush, a hake brush, puddle pusher, etc, if I can get some one started for .65 why not? The prints that I make have been sold all over the place. And for well known photographers.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
the reality of it is that one can make excellent prints with a foam brush. If you prefer another way or can't make a excellent print with one, so be it.
Chuck that foam brush and buy a bag of them. They're cheap. They don't last forever. I agree with Eric on this one. Different styles of brushes work differently on different papers and work differently on different emulsions. Coat some test strips with a rod, foam brush and a hake and you'll see variations good and bad. I once thought I should do everything with a rod -- well you find out pretty quick that you can't. Some papers like to curl or warp making them unsuitable for rod coating. Some papers don't achieve a decent shadow density with anything BUT a foam brush. Some emulsions like gum hate foam brushes but like hakes. It might be interesting to try combo coating some papers ie. 1st pass rod - 2nd pass hake or 1st hake - 2nd foam brush etc. Also if you're double coating VDB you could try thinning the first coat with a couple of extra drops of water, then once that's dry do a full strength coat. You might also want to invest in a bottle of Tween 20. I find that making a stock dilution of different ratios can save (or destroy) an emulsion - paper - brush combo.
You have to realize that at the major manufacturers we didn't use foam brushes or paint brushes for making hand coatings, we used coating blades.
FWIW, you can never achieve production quality with anything but a coating blade.
OTOH, to reproduce the 'art' look or the look of the early days of photography, there is nothing like a brush of some sort.
In other words, there is a place for everything depending on what look you want to achieve.
Can I possibly coat Pt/Pd with one of your blades? Have you tried with other kinds of sensitizers with them?
I am just wondering... Thanks.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer