I haven't gone the digital neg route for lack of a printer, as well as disinterest in paying what it costs from some commercial services. None of the pro printing labs in Boston will print on transparencies anyway.
I have, I'm sure, been overcoating the paper. I've taken this from my experience with cyanotypes, where I get much denser shadows if I use 3 or more coats.
I'd assumed that since VD has a very long tonal scale, it would be amenable to high contrast negatives. The difference with cyanotype, though, is it seems I can't expose the VD for long enough to get highlight detail and still have non-solarized shadows.