Ok- perhaps lousy was the wrong adjective. Inconsistent and unpredictable results might have been more appropriate. I stand by my comment about teaching with the more refined tool first - let the student learn proper technique that will get them a consistent result first, then show them a variety of tools that will produce varying results. It's about controlling the medium. When you teach someone to paint, you don't start them off with a palette knife as their primary brush. You start them with a decent paintbrush. When they've mastered that technique, then you show them different tools to achieve different effects.
Originally Posted by EricNeilsen
Perhaps, the answer lies in your first response, "When I first started learning... step away." I do not get inconsistent or unpredictable results using a foam brush and neither should anyone else. The are quite predictable. Your statement still implys that foam brushes are some how improper. One can certainly learn improper techniques for any tool and some tools fit a particular persons style and personality better. Materful images can be made with Holga, Linhofs, Leicas et la. Tools are only a beginning that start one down an avenue that opens the door to expression.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
I don't start my students out on expensive paper and expensive brushes. I start them out with the knowledge to grow into their own expression. They will have lots of time to practice coating later. they have limited time with me and get feed back.
As for volume of coating solution for foam brushes? a Starting point is 20 drops of ferric and 20 drops of metal salts but that varies with paper type and what type of edges one is looking for in a print. Many times printers will give themselves 1 to 2 inch brush strokes, thereby greatly increasing the need for coating solution. Cot 320 requires less as does Arches platine, some papers more. Before use can really say how much volume of solution do you need, you must first ask how much do I really need to coat? a 20, 20 drop count is for papers such as Cranes with a generous 1 in over coating.
Thinner coatings will be faster but run the risk of being less able to give you a good dmax. A chemical that produces images of inferior quality even in small amount is potassium chlorate. Many printers are taught to use it. And if they are taught that with a foam brush? is it the brush or the chlorate responsible for an ugly print?
I try to teach and share what I know. Flying Camera, I have not seen your prints and only have been checking in here a little, but I can tell you are passionate about your craft. I keep puddle pushers, Formulary Rods, Hake brushes, foam brushes,and Magic Richeson brush for students to try, but I first show most of them the foam brush with an explanation as to what to look for when coating. I bring 24 years of platinum/palladium experience to the lessons.
Just another point of view, although I've only been platinum printing for 17 years...
Foam brushes work ok on relatively hard-surfaced, smooth papers that don't require double coating or lots of brushwork to get the sensitizer into the paper. High probability for abrasion.
Coating rods work well for smooth, hard-surfaced papers that are substantial enough to not buckle when wet. Low probability of abasion.
I have not found a paper that does not coat beautifully with a Richeson Magic Brush (or similar). From the thinnest vellums to medium weight papers that buckle to papers with lots of surface texture to the smooth, thicker papers like COT and Platine. Zero probability of abasion.
For me, there is never an advantage to using a foam brush. Yes, you can make them work, but why? I stopped using them for my own work and in workshops years ago. I always provide instruction on the use of coating rods and Richesons, then let the students find their own way from there. I would guess 80 to 90 percent of my students prefer the Richeson brush. I've had many students come to workshops who have used foam brushes before. 100% of them prefer either the glass rod or the RMB. There are better ways to cut printing costs than saving a few bucks on a brush that can be used for thousands of prints.
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I agree with Kerik. There is no question in my mind but that one can make good prints coating with a foam brush, but there is a definite risk of abrasion with soft papers, especially with double coating, and the foam brushes always require slighly more sensitizer than the Richeson or a coating rod. And coating rods are almost useless when double coating is involved.
The Richeson brush is the best IMO, and I highly recommend it to anyone starting out in hand coated processes such as VDB, kallitype and Pt./Pd.
Originally Posted by Kerik
[QUOTE=Kerik]Just another point of view, although I've only been platinum printing for 17 years...
I only mention years of printing to let Flying Camera have an idea that I've seen a few things over the years, not that I must be right. or that it gives me providence over platinum printing.
I have seen double coating mentioned often as well. Another procedure that I find for the most part, unneeded and most certainly not to be done successfully with a foam brush on most papers.
Unless ones prints look poorly crafted, I think many students would follow in the teachers footsteps at least for a while. And if taught with some level of success and enjoyment, it would not be surprising that they'd also display that enthusiasum for the tools the teacher uses or prefers.
more than one way to skn a cat
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You know that none of these methods are used to get high quality silver gelatin coatings, right?
In fact, the method used to get high quality silver gelatin coatings can be used to improve other methods of coating alternate photo sensitive materials.
At the research divisions of all major manufacturers, we have developed a unique method of coating that gives near production quality coatings from hand coated materials as small as 2x3 but as large as 11x14.
Now, I am going to be the first to admit that brushes add an art like look and quality to a print, but if you want near production quailty, the coating blade is the method to use. I have been using my sample blades for about 2 months now, and will have soon, in-hand, a batch of blades for 4x5 and 8x10. I will be using them at the workshop to instruct people and show how this method can be used as an alternative to all that has been described above.
This basic method has been in use for high quality coating for nearly 100 years. I am really surprised that this did not propagate to the general coating public out there, but I have seen no one using anything like this.
You will see them soon.
Can we see what one looks like now?
PE, It would be great if they would work, but the first thing I see is 4x5 and 8x10. That would be great for film, but many prints fall outside those sizes. Have you tried them on alt papers? It is not the brush stroke look that is that important but the ability to handle diminsionally unstable material. And to me that is at the basis for the whole what type of brush or coating device one should or can use conversation.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
Can you describe your tool a little more? Does it hold the paper down as well as apply the coating? How big do you plan to go? is it adjustable?
As I change print sizes, I change the size of the brush. Small prints, 8x10 or less, I use a 2" brush, but for bigger images, I use up to a 4" brush for 30x40. I can't imagine coating a 30"x40" area with a 2" brush.
What is the failure rate? streaks? cleaning or changing emulsions?
The failure rate is less than 10% at 4x5 and increases to about 10% at 8x10. I have a prototype blade for 11x14 and there is no reason why a 16x20 blade cannot be built except for cost.
They do hold the paper down for uniform spread of materials from top to bottom and side to side resulting in a precise measurement of liquid delivered to the surface of the paper or film.
Cleaning involves a dip in hot water and a rinse with water then drying with a towel and you are ready for the next coating. These are stainless steel. The 4x5 blade weighs about 1lb (420 grams) and the 8x10 blade is about 2x heavier.
The amount of solution applied depends on gap width of the trailing edge of the blade and can be adujsted to whatever you wish. That way, you only need to make one coating, not multiple coatings.
I coat from .002" to 0.010" with no problem. The pictures I have posted here were coated at 0.005" (5 mil). At 5mil, the average 8x10 requires 12 ml of total solution, but the active ingredients may be adusted based on desired dmax and contrast.
It is related to the doctor blade used in early photo coating machines or to the coating blade used in the paint industry to check out varying thicknesses of paints. It is a precision instrument made of high quality stainless steel. I have avoided posting pictures as the only pictures I have currently are digital for rapid transmission to co-workers, and I don't wish to post them on APUG. I feel it to be detrimental to the goals of APUG, but necessary in the business world (so to speak and with apologies. Digital has a place, but not in art IMHO.).
Anyhow, I have had 2 production batches fail due to various reasons beyond my control, otherwise things would be further advanced than they are. I expect the real delivery to be about the first week in April. I will have 5 blades of each size at the workshops.
I don't think digital photographs of your coating blade should be a problem here at APUG since you aren't posting them in the galleries. Besides all images here at APUG are digital anyway.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
My 2 cents,