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  1. #1

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    Relief Photographs on Metal

    Hi - A strange question is this one:

    I recently visited an ex-boss of mine. I used to work for him in the darkroom as a printer. Most of the work we used to do when I started was for itinerent street photographers and photographers who used to cold call on houses - "Hello Missis would you like some pictures taken of the kids?" etc.

    One of the printed effects that the company used to do was to print a photograph on a (very) soft thin sheet of metal, hand colour it and then mould it onto a plaster base that had a relief image of the same image moulded on it so that it appeared the photograph was slightly three dimensioned. I never saw this produced and wonder if anyone here could tell me how it was done - all I have seen is two examples, one of the bosses grandmother full face and one of a couple full length. At a guess I would suggest the metal was zinc / lead combination.

    I am interested in both how the print was put on the metal and how the plaster (if it is plaster) base was moulded to be so much like the picture formed over it. I have quizzed my ex-boss about the process and he hasn't a clue how it was produced but says he remembers the process lasted until the early 1930's and was quite popular.

    Does anyone have any comments?

    Thanks in advance.

    nn


    P.S. As the process seems rather alternative I have posted it here but Mods please move it if you feel it is more appropriate elseware.

  2. #2
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    There are a couple possibilities that would give similar results.

    One is carbon printing that can create an image that has a raised relief -- a very permanent image is created using gelatin and pigments of your choice...and transfered onto a final support (paper, glass, metal). The blacks are made of a thicker layer of gelatin than the whites. This is the process I use.

    Then one could use the same process, or with photo-sensitive polymers to create a raised relief that can then be pressed paper or metal -- or used to create a mold to pour the plaster onto to create the relief in plaster.

    I believe the Hybrid forum has a discussion on the polymers.

    Vaughn

  3. #3
    glbeas's Avatar
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    I wouldn't be surprised if the relief was done by hand back then. Quicker and easier than any chemical process. Engraving processes and plastic polymer plates like Dilitho make very deep relief images for letterpress printing but I would think that too expensive for the likes of what you describe.
    Gary Beasley

  4. #4

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    Thanks for all your help.

    I think the photograph was printed onto the soft metal that had a normal paper type emulsion on it. It was then probably subject to some moulding by hand and then plaster was poured into the mould formed by the metal.

    nn

  5. #5
    Struan Gray's Avatar
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    Gelatin hardened with alum can be surprisingly tough. The historic Woodburytype print process used a hardened gelatin relief to mould lead sheet by direct pressure. The lead could then be repeatedly inked or flooded with a gelatin/carbon mix and the image transferred to paper. Alternatively, a plaster cast could be made which reproduces the relief of the gelatin layer.

    Direct carving of ceramics to create relief was the norm in earlier times, but was expensive and required skilled craftsmen, so was unlikely to have been used for door-to-door sales in the 30s. I suspect that a soft metal foil was burnished onto a gelatin relief, paint or other colourants flooded into the relevant areas, and then plaster or other ceramic cast into the resulting mould. Not a technique for large scale production, but for a one-off it would work well enough and would be simple and cheap.

    There is a fair bit of information about Woodburytypes online, but this page in particular talks about some of the ceramic variants:

    http://www.alternativephotography.co...dburytype.html

  6. #6

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    PHOTOGRAPHS IN RELEIF IN METAL (PIRIM)

    I KNOW YOUR MESSAGE WAS A WHILE AGO .
    I HAVE SOME OF THESE PHOTOGRAPHS.
    AND BELIEVE I KNOW A LITTLE ABOUT THE SYSTEM USED.

  7. #7
    hpulley's Avatar
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    4 years ago
    Harry Pulley - Visit the BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE FORUM

    Happiness is...

  8. #8
    vyshemirsky's Avatar
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    Well, tell us then!

  9. #9
    holmburgers's Avatar
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    And share them!

    I just read the original post and my curiousity was certainly piqued.

  10. #10

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    Me too!!! I've done quite a bit of resin casting in the past and have often wondered how i could do printing in layers to give a final 3D illusion in a transparent support. I'm sure somebody has done something like this already (reminds me of embedded in resin Eiffel Tower keychains sold in Paris souvenir shops) but maybe i'd try multiple gums in resin? hmmmmm.

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